Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – A high-ranking Libyan official told Asharq Al-Awsat that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is present in his stronghold of Bab al-Aziziyah in Tripoli, and played down Gaddafi’s recent public absence – his last media appearance was two weeks ago – stressing that the Libyan leader is busy directing his country’s affairs, confronting what he described as a “conspiracy” against Libya.
The senior Libyan official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity from the Libyan capital Tripoli, said that “I confirm to you that the leader is well and that his affairs are under control, his morale is high despite what is happening.”
He added “he [Gaddafi] is relaxed, despite the fact that he is witnessing the conspiracy [against Libya] with his own eyes…his psychological condition is well and he is very comfortable.”
He also indicated that Gaddafi’s lack of public appearance does not mean anything, stressing that the Libyan leader is confident that he will “achieve victory over his enemies.”
He added “he will appear when necessary, all that is being said to justify his absence is far from true, if he [Gaddafi] felt the need, he would appear before the people immediately, there is no problem whatsoever in this regard.”
Asharq Al-Awsat asked the senior Libyan official about Gaddafi’s response to the defection of his former foreign minister Musa Kusa, who is currently in London. He responded “Gaddafi said that betrayal existed since the days of the Prophet, peace be upon him.” The official also stressed that Kusa’s health would not have allowed him to continue his work as Libyan foreign minister, in any case.
Gaddafi has not been seen publicly for approximately two weeks, which represents the longest period that he failed to make a public appearance since the beginning of the popular uprising against him and his regime, which begin on 17 February.
At the beginning of the uprising, Gaddafi would appear almost nightly to greet his supports who would gather in Green Square, close to Bab al-Aziziyah. Gaddafi has issued a number of audio recordings to compensate for his absence.
As for the reports of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s senior aide, Mohamed Ismail, traveling to London to conduct secret meetings with British officials, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that his recent surprising visit to London was for family reasons. In a brief statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ismail said “I visited London as part of a family visit.” He refused to confirm or deny whether he had passed on a message from Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to British government officials, saying only “I was visiting family, that’s the end of the story.”