Dictator's daughter gives birth in Sahara Desert
Published 31/08/2011 | 05:00
HUNTED throughout her homeland and forced to flee into exile across a dangerous desert border, the daughter of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi paused somewhere in the Sahara to have a baby.
The dramatic birth of Gaddafi's grand-daughter, less than 24 hours after her mother and other relatives escaped Libyan territory into Algeria, lends a human dimension to the dictator's downfall and the ongoing mystery of his whereabouts.
The child's name and even the identity of her father remain a mystery. Her birth in exile was disclosed by the Algerian Health Ministry yesterday, but an official with the ministry would provide no other information, including exactly where it happened.
Gaddafi's only biological daughter, Aisha, had fled with his wife Safia, and two of her brothers, Hannibal and Mohammed, entering southern Algeria on Monday, the Algerian foreign ministry said.
Algerian news reports said Aisha's pregnancy was one reason for the country's controversial decision to take the family in.
An Algerian newspaper reported that the exiles, who also included an unknown number of Gaddafi's grandchildren by his eight children, had waited 12 hours to receive authorisation to cross the Algerian border -- while Aisha was in labour.
The whole party is now wanted by Libya's new rulers. Libya's interim government criticised Algeria's decision to take in Gaddafi's fleeing wife and children and demanded that Algiers hand them over for trial in Libya.
Aisha Gaddafi is a lawyer in her mid-30s who helped in the defence of toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the trial that led to his hanging. She is reported to already have three children, making yesterday's birth her fourth.
Until her father unleashed a bloody crackdown on Libyan demonstrators, Aisha had been for two years a goodwill ambassador for the UN Development Programme.
She had been appointed to the post in 2009, to focus on UN anti-poverty goals, especially combatting HIV/AIDS and violence against women.
The young mother had hurriedly fled her mansion in Tripoli, just hours ahead of advancing Libyan rebels.
Rebels trashed and looted her home and those of her siblings.
Aisha lived in a two-story mansion with an indoor pool and sauna. The presence of small children was felt everywhere in the house. A large playroom was strewn with toys.
Signs of the Gaddafi family's exorbitant wealth were also everywhere, including Aisha's Bohemian crystal glasses and a brown Dolce and Gabana leather jacket of one of her children.