Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- In what could be described as a significant political surprise in Libya, a high-ranking official denied to Asharq Al-Awsat that Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam, is set to assume a political post in the Libyan government in the near future.
The Libyan official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said “Engineer Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi is not thinking about going back on his decision to retire from political life and public affairs in Libya, which he took in August 2008.” The official also stressed that Saif al-Islam is now free to devote all his time to his academic and charitable efforts.
The official pointed to the absence of any item on the agenda of the Basic People’s Congress – which is currently meeting now in preparation for the Libyan parliamentary session that is scheduled to take place at the end of the month – with regards to the future of Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi. Saif al-Islam was widely expected to take up the position of Secretary of the General People’s Congress, but speculation now seems to indicate that he is set to postpone this.
In 2009, Colonel Gaddafi had offered his second son an official position in the Libyan state, in order to aid his implementation of his reform program “Libya tomorrow.” In fact, Al-Zinati Mohamed al-Zinati, Secretary of the General People’s Congress and a close confidant of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, stepped down from his position two months ago in what was widely considered to be a precursor for Saif al-Islam to take up this post.
There has been a lot of speculation that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi desires to take up this post which would effectively make him the second most important man in Libya, and in one stroke give him supervision and control over parliamentary and governmental operations.
A source close to Colonel Gaddafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday that Saif al-Islam is still reluctant to re-enter political life in Libya.
He quoted Saif al-Islam as saying “I have had no connection public affairs for some time, and I stand by this decision and I do not intend to go back on this now.”
The source also said that Saif al-Islam believes that any return to political life would be subject to the Libyan people being given an opportunity to have their say [on this] in a political environment that guarantees the existence of [political] parties and civilian institutes, as well as a mechanisms to ensure that elections have high levels of transparency and integrity.
The source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saif al-Islam is currently fully devoted to the institute that he founded in London last year, and he will release several books in the near future, and he remains devoted to his charitable efforts.
The source, who is close to Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, quoted him as saying “I decided to withdraw [from politics] and I do not have any desire to engage in any political projects.”
The same source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi believes that the Libyan people decide who has true legitimacy, and that the Libyan people are the only party that can give any political official in Libya legitimacy to participate in decision making and governance. The source added “Until the situation is ready he [Saif al-Islam] is not enthusiastic, however let us imagine that he decided to enter the political process, he would certainly only enter under specific conditions, such as those conditions [that exist] in any civilized country in the world.”
The source also quoted Saif al-Islam as saying “If I thought about [re-entering politics], this would [only] be after the adoption of the constitution and after all Libyans consent to this, and after it has been discussed and debated prior to ratification, and [following] the issuance of new laws that regulate the political process.”
As for Gaddafi’s proposal that Saif al-Islam take up an official government position, the source said that this was just a suggestion to the Libyan people, and it is up to them to decide on this through a transparent and genuine [electoral] mechanism.
He added “the words of the brotherly Colonel will not take place as long as he [Saif al-Islam] is not offered the required conditions and environment.”
The source also quoted Saif al-Islam as saying “I think that the situation in Libya is moving forward and progressing, regardless of the presence or lack of presence of Saif al-Islam, for my presence does not make a significant difference.”
The source also denied to Asharq Al-Awsat that any political disagreements or conflict in Libya was behind the postponement of Saif al-Islam taking an official governmental position, saying “Libya is not in need of battles, but rather stability and peace and quiet, and the battles that we fought in the past were more than enough.”
The source also denied the presence of any disputes between Saif al-Islam and his other brothers, especially Mutassim al-Gaddafi, who currently holds the position of Libyan National Security adviser, saying “This is all nonsense.”