Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saif-al-Islam, the second son of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, is at present pondering his nomination to the post of general coordinator of a grouping of tribal, political and business leaders in an effort to end speculation in Libya over his political future, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.
An informed Libyan source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Qadhafi’s son who is at present on a private visit abroad would return to the country soon at a date that has not been determined yet to announce his official and final stand on this nomination. Libyan circles are waiting for the return of Al-Qadhafi’s son while those close to him are hinting at a speech he would deliver as information is circulating that he intends to join in the demolition of the ill-reputed Abu-Salim jail in the Libyan capital Tripoli and which is expected to be turned into a services projects for the citizens.
The timing for referring the proposal for Saif-al-Islam’s appointment to the Libyan parliament is not clear yet, though it is expected that it would be referred to the basic people’s congresses (local and municipal) in the coming few weeks to discuss and express observations about it. Libyan sources said if the Libyan parliament approved the nomination then this would be considered an official appointment that would not need the ratification of Col. Al-Qadhafi. Though Al-Qadhafi Sr. does not occupy any official position in the Libyan state he still has the powers of the revolutionary legitimacy which authorize him to appoint or dismiss senior state officials but he rarely intervenes in such matters.
The sources said the legal argument over the installation of Saif-al-Islam in his new post reflects his way of thinking and the way in which he wants to exercise the powers of his post and pointed out that he would accept immediately once he became sure there is sweeping popular support for him and broad mass acceptance.
Saif-al-Islam withdrew suddenly from the political and public life in Libya last year in what appeared to be a setback for his plan to bring about radical changes in the Libyan state at the political and economic levels. Col. Al-Qadhafi proposed to the institutions in Libya in an official speech last week, which the official media did not report, to enable his son to occupy an official post so that he can continue and implement his reform program and the social leaderships immediately nominated his son as their chairman.
On the other hand, Dr. Ali al-Sulabi, the Libyan mediator between the Libyan authorities and hard-line Islamists opposed to them, disclosed to Asharq Al-Awsat that unpublicized contacts were held with a number of Libyans from the Islamic groups, among them former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s [IFG] Shura council, in preparation for their return to Libya within the framework of the dialogue that Saif-al-Islam is leading. Al-Sulabi and Libyan diplomatic missions abroad were contacted by these leaders which included assertions of their desire to join the national reconciliation train.
The Libyan authorities recently released 88 Islamist prisoners, a step which Al-Sulafi described as positive and in the right direction so that the innocent ones who led the dialogue, wrote the revisions, and renounced violence and the carrying of arms would not remain in jail for expressing their political views.
Speaking by telephone to Asharq Al-Awsat from the Qatari capital Doha where he lives at present, Al-Sulabi praised the efforts of Al-Qadhafi’s son, the dialogue sponsor, and noted that he removed many obstacles and difficulties which almost aborted and killed this dialogue. He expressed the hope that Saif-al-Islam would double his efforts as he is, according to him, the hope for the release of all prisoners and the IFG leaders who wrote the revisions that had a broad impact inside and outside Libya.
When asked about the number of those who are still in Libyan jails, Al-Sulabi said: “There are unfortunately hundreds. The security’s view to release the prisoners in groups and not all at once apparently prevailed in the end.” He revealed that the dialogue dossier would not have been opened in the first place in Libya had it not been for Saif-al-Islam and said: “It went through many difficulties and at one stage reached the point where I asked Al-Qadhafi’s son to relieve me of this post but he insisted that I continue and overcome the obstacles and that is what happened.” He added: “The engineer (Saif-al-Islam) was eager to meet all their demands and exerted pressures despite the reservations of some security quarters. He was convinced that the dialogue would succeed in the end and was eager that no one should remain in jail.” He said: “We had a dialogue and he told me that more would be released and he fulfilled his promise. We hope more will be released soon so as to close this dossier for good.”