Sunday 22 April 2018

Defiant Gaddafi urges loyalists to 'let Libya be on fire'

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi promised to 'let Libya burn' as he defied calls from world leaders gathered in Paris for his surrender. Photo: Getty Images
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi promised to 'let Libya burn' as he defied calls from world leaders gathered in Paris for his surrender. Photo: Getty Images

Kim Sengupta in Tarhuna

MUAMMAR GADDAFI laid out an apocalyptic vision for the country that had dared to overthrow him yesterday, demanding from his remaining supporters "let Libya be on fire" and vowing death for those guilty of disloyalty.

"Those who do not love me do not deserve to live," he said in his latest message that was broadcast yesterday. Gaddafi threatened to unleash a "long war against the agents of colonialism" in a recorded audio message on the Al-Rai channel in Syria on the 42nd anniversary of his seizing power. He vowed: "We will not surrender, we are not women, we will keep fighting."

While the words of the fallen dictator, under fierce pursuit from vengeful rebel fighters, to unleash "a long war" may have sounded hollow, there was enough trepidation about his following among armed tribes for the opposition administration to extend the deadline for a negotiated settlement by another seven days.

Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace, Bani Walid and Sabah are all towns under siege by the rebels. The Transitional National Council (TNC) had given regime forces until Saturday, the first day after Eid al-Fitr, the celebrations after the holy month of Ramadan, to surrender before the new date was set.

There was evidence of the power the Gaddafi family still wields psychologically in the areas around his last remaining strongholds. Closer to Bani Walid, where the dictator's son Saif al-Islam may be hiding, there were more of the regime's green flags flying and residents seemed reluctant to believe that there was a new order in Tripoli.

Some said they believed the regime would launch a guerrilla war from another country and may, one day, return. The fear of retribution was highlighted by the discovery of documents at a Tripoli prison allegedly showing that Gaddafi had ordered the execution of 100,000 people.

Rebel commanders in the town of Tarhuna claimed that telephone interceptions by Nato had placed Saif in Bani Walid whose aim, supposedly, was to strengthen the resolve of the Warfalla, the biggest tribe in the country, many of whose elders have failed to support the uprising.

Gaddafi himself, according to the officers, was in Bani Walid but has since moved on to locations further south, on the Algerian border -- an area that had seen several Western air strikes in the last few days.

The decision to extend the deadline for reaching a deal with the loyalists exasperated some rebel fighters. At Miga, Mohammed Fateh Abdullah said: "We need to settle this and start our new Libya." (© Independent News Service) .

Irish Independent

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