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Gaddafi may be heading to South Africa via Mali – NTC spokesman | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Libyan National Transitional Council [NTC] representative to the Arab League in Cairo, Abdel Monem al-Houni, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi may be preparing to flee to South Africa via Mali, after the ousted Libyan leader transferred large amounts of foreign capital and gold to South Africa before fleeing his Baba al-Aziziya stronghold in the face of the Libyan rebels advance on Tripoli.

NTC sources also revealed that senior Gaddafi aides have recently been in contact with the South African authorities in this regard, adding that Gaddafi has strong personal relations with South African President Jacob Zuma.

NTC representative to the Arab League, Abdul Monem al-Houni, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the NTC has received information from a number of sources that Colonel Gaddafi may view South Africa as a safe haven for him and his family. Gaddafi lost control of the Libyan capital Tripoli last week and is currently on the run from the NTC who have taken over the country and have been recognized by the majority of the international community as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people.

Al-Houni stressed that Gaddafi’s options regarding a safe haven to flee are narrowing, particularly as the Libyan NTC as well as the International Criminal Court [ICC], want to put him on trial for crimes against humanity. The NTC spokesman said that Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia will not receive Gaddafi or allow him to stay in their territory for fear of public opinion. Although Algeria has accepted a number of Gaddafi family members in its territory, including Gaddafi’s wife Safia, his daughter Aisha Gaddafi, as well as Hannibal and Muhammad Gaddafi.

Al-Houni told Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaddafi’s route out of Libya will most likely therefore either be via Niger or Mali, particularly as Sudan and Chad have recently recognized the NTC.

The NTC spokesman revealed that ousted Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi does not enjoy strong relations with Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, although he does enjoy close relations with Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure, and that therefore it is most likely that Gaddafi will seek to travel to South Africa via Mali.

Al-Houni told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we believe, according to reports and information that we have received, that Gaddafi may flee across the desert into Mali, and from there travel to South Africa to stay under the protection of his only friend and ally in the African continent at this time, Jacob Zuma.”

Gaddafi’s current whereabouts in Libya are unknown, despite the huge campaign being undertaken by the NTC in collaboration with NATO to arrest the ousted Libyan leader and bring him to justice.

A Libyan rebel military source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Tripoli, said that the process of monitoring telephone and wireless communication in Libya has so far failed to uncover Gaddafi’s location, although the search is ongoing. In addition to this, the NTC is also attempting to find out if any of his former aides and ministers currently being detained in Tripoli are in contact with him or knows his whereabouts.

The deadline granted by the NTC to the city of Sirte – that is currently under the control of Gaddafi loyalists – to lay down its arms and accept the authority of the NTC has been the subject of fierce debate within the ranks of the Libyan rebels, with some NTC members complaining that this deadline may facilitate Gaddafi fleeing the country and escaping from justice. This debate further intensified after the NTC extended the deadline for another week; it now runs out on Saturday 10 September 2011.

Asharq Al-Awsat has received information that thousands of Gaddafi loyalists, led by some prominent members of the Gaddafi family, have taken control of Sirte and are prepared to defend it against the Libyan rebels.

Al-Houni himself warned of the consequences of granting Sirte this deadline, telling Asharq Al-Awsat that it represents a “golden opportunity” for Gaddafi to organize his affairs and flee the country. The NTC spokesman said that Gaddafi will most likely flee Libya whether or not Sirte – the last major Gaddafi stronghold in Libya – falls under NTC-control.

Gaddafi recently issued a second recorded message from hiding, calling on his supporters to prepare for an insurgency against Western powers who he accused of trying to occupy Libya and steal its oil.

In this speech, Gaddafi began by proclaiming “we are the lions of the desert, you will not be granted our oil fields and ports”, before calling on the people of Libya to “be ready to resist the occupiers as did your parents and grandparents” adding that “the occupation will weaken day by day and the resistance will grow stronger day by day.”

Gaddafi then threatened the Libyan rebels and the West with a “gang war”, “urban warfare”, “guerilla warfare” and “a war of bees that string and run away and return to sting once more.”

The ousted Libyan leader also rejected demands by the NTC for his forces surrender, saying that “Libya will not surrender and will not be colonized. We will fight them wherever they are and burn the earth under their feet” adding “you will not sleep and rest in our land.”

He also claimed that “resistance is growing in Tripoli and it will be liberated inch by inch…the green flag hovers everywhere from the borders with Algeria, Niger, and Chad to the Mediterranean shore.”