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Gaddafi suffering from incurable illness – Libyan and western sources | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Despite the pledge made by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in his most recent audio statement, that his forces would continue to resist the Syrian rebels and NATO forces until death, Libyan and Arab sources have informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Libyan leader has sent one of his closest advisers, Bashir Saleh, to Mali and the Tunisian island of Djerba, to meet with British and French officials with the objective of discussing “securing a safe exit for Gaddafi and his family from Libya.” The Gaddafi envoy reportedly secretly met officials from the British Foreign Office and the French Presidency, in an attempt to secure a safe exit for the Gaddafi family.

Officials within the Libyan rebel National Transitional Council [NTC], in addition to western diplomatic sources in Cairo and Tripoli, have also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that a medical report suggests that Colonel Gaddafi is suffering from an incurable illness which may be affecting his ability to appear in public. This would explain why Gaddafi has only appeared in public rarely in recent months, and why he has taken to addressing his forces and supporters through audio recordings broadcast via the Libyan state media.

Asharq Al-Awsat spoke with a source close to the Gaddafi family about the claims that Gaddafi is suffering from an incurable medical condition, however the source refused to comment. However, Libyan rebel sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that these reports are most likely true, but refused to provide any corroborating evidence.

Asharq Al-Awsat obtained information that Bashir Saleh – who is also Gaddafi’s Chief of Staff – held secret talks with French officials in the Malian capital Bamako. An NTC official corroborated this information, revealing to Asharq Al-Awsat that they had received reports that secret meetings were taking place between the Gaddafi regime and western governments; however they stressed that this does not represent anything new. The NTC source claimed that these secret meetings were taking place in light of the rebel forces march on Tripoli, particularly following their military advancement over the previous two days. The NTC official also claimed that Gaddafi had successfully convinced South African President Jacob Zuma to host the Gaddafi family due to the close personal relationship between the two.

A different NTC source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Libyan government funds had been transferred to South Africa, which indicates that Gaddafi may try to seek refuge there in the future.

The NTC official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that “the message that we are waiting for – along with our allies in the international forces – from Gaddafi, is that he is prepared to leave, and then we can listen, and help him find a safe haven, and give him all the international and legal guarantees that he requires.”

The source added “we have a vested interest in Gaddafi and his family leaving the country immediately; we do not want the battle to liberate the capital Tripoli to become a massacre, therefore if the price is for him to leave power safely then we are prepared to pay this.”

There have been a number of media reports claiming that secret meetings are being held in Tunisia between the Libyan rebels and representatives of the Gaddafi regime; however the NTC has denied this. NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil stressed that “there are no negotiations either direct or indirect with the Gaddafi regime or with the special envoy of the United Nations.”

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi also confirmed that there is no truth whatsoever in the reports that the Gaddafi regime is conducting dialogue with the Libyan rebels. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview from Tripoli, al-Obeidi stressed that ‘I have no knowledge about any talks” although he did acknowledge that “we are nevertheless willing to conduct dialogue with the opposition without any pre-conditions.”

For his part, NTC spokesman Mahmoud Shamam denied that any NTC official was meeting with Gaddafi regime officials. He stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the NTC position remains the same, namely that there will be no dialogue with the Gaddafi regime until Colonel Gaddafi steps down from power.

According to sources within the NTC, the rumours about secret talks between the Gaddafi regime and the Libyan rebels are a cover to hide the clandestine talks taking place between Gaddafi envoys and western governments.

Western diplomatic sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Tunisia, revealed that Gaddafi has once proposed a solution to the Libyan crisis which would include him remaining in power in a symbolic position, with the formation of a transitional government made up of Libyan rebel figures and remnants of the Gaddafi regime.

In a new mediation attempt, UN Special Envoy to Libya Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, arrived in Tunisia where he met with the Libyan rebels and representatives of the Gaddafi regime. This represents his first visit to the region since the Libyan rebels’ recent progress in the field, advancing on Gaddafi’s stronghold, Tripoli.

Following the Libyan rebels unexpected progress, Gaddafi urged the Libyan people to arm themselves and liberate the country from “traitors and NATO.” In an audio address broadcast on Libyan state television, Gaddafi said “the end of the coloniser is close and the end of the rat is close. They (the rebels) flee from one house to another before the masses who are chasing them.”

He added “the Libyan people will remain and the Fateh revolution (which brought him to power in 1969) will remain. Move forward, challenge, pick up your weapons, for to the fight for liberating Libya inch by inch from the traitors and from NATO.”

He ended his speech defiantly, calling on the people to “get ready for the fight…the blood of martyrs is fuel for the battlefield.”