Change of plan: The Hague can have Gaddafi, say rebels

The head of Libya’s rebel council said on Monday that there was now no possibility of Muammar Gaddafi being granted internal exile in Libya, following an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for his arrest.

Mustafa Mohammed Abdel Jalil, chairperson of the National Transitional Council (NTC), said: “There is absolutely no current or future possibility for Gaddafi to remain in Libya.”

Jalil confirmed that such an offer had been made but said it was now null and void.

“There is no escape clause for Gaddafi — he must be removed from power and face justice.”

As news surfaced of the prospect of the NTC allowing Gaddafi to stay in Libya, there was anger on the streets of the rebel capital of Benghazi on Sunday.

Around 100 people gathered in front of a hotel where a top NTC member was giving a press conference, a rare show of opposition against the council, which has steered the east of the country since Gaddafi’s troops were pushed out four months ago.

While all senior members of the NTC insist that Gaddafi must leave power, there is less unity about whether or not there should be talks to give the veteran ruler a way out.

Insiders said there was a split between former members of the regime, who believe talks could help moderate members of Gaddafi’s inner circle advocate his departure. Some long-time opposition members, including many who have lived in exile, are opposed to any kind of talks.

Oil security
Libya’s rebel council also said on Monday that it would honour oil contracts inked under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, at least during the country’s transition to democracy.

“During its time as the temporary government, the NTC will continue to honour all finance and oil contracts made during the Gaddafi regime,” the NTC said.

A range of foreign companies from Italy’s ENI to Norway’s Statoil have operations in Libya along with the Libyan state-run giant the National Oil Company. — AFP

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