[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Libyans urged to unite after death of Gaddafi

[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Libyans urged to unite after death of Gaddafi

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2011 00:05:24 +0200

Libyans urged to unite after death of Gaddafi

Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:52pm GMT

* Gaddafi's body on show in Misrata

* Interim premier confirms standing down on Saturday

* Gaddafi family, rights groups want death investigated (Edits)

By Rania El Gamal and Tim Gaynor

MISRATA, Libya, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Libya's interim prime minister said he
was resigning on Saturday and urged new leaders to seize a "very limited
opportunity" and resolve rivalries now surfacing after Muammar Gaddafi's

With regional differences emerging about what to do with Gaddafi's still
unburied body, the formal end to the war and the carve-up of power, Libya's
outgoing premier said the coming days posed a crucial test of resolve for
the new men in power.

Mahmoud Jibril said he would step down later on Saturday, after seven months
as prime minister of the Western-backed rebel government now that the legal
declaration of "liberation" was expected on Sunday following Gaddafi's
killing on Thursday.

But in a parting shot at an international business forum in Jordan, he
warned Libyans to avoid in-fighting if Libyans were to keep to a plan to
hold their first free election next year.

Leaders required "resolve", he said, "in the next few days".

In Misrata, the curious and the relieved filed for a second day through a
market cold store to view the body of Gaddafi, whose surprise capture and
killing in his hometown of Sirte sparked joy - and renewed jockeying for
postwar influence.

Visitors wore surgical masks against the stench, an image that may trouble
some Muslims, for whom swift burial is a holy duty - even if few Libyans
share the unease among their Western allies over what some believe was a
summary execution.

Jibril said progress for Libya would need great resolution, both by interim
leaders on the National Transitional Council and by six million war-weary
people: "First," he said, "What kind of resolve the NTC will show in the
next few days?

"And the other thing depends mainly on the Libyan people - whether they
differentiate between the past and the future."

He added: "I am counting on them to look ahead and remember the kind of
agony they went through in the last 42 years.

"We need to seize this very limited opportunity."


The formal declaration of an end to war and of "liberation" from Gaddafi's
rule was expected to be made by NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Sunday
in the eastern city of Benghazi, the seat of the revolt inspired by the fall
of autocrats in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

There have been several delays to the announcement. It will set a clock
ticking on a plan for a new government and constitutional assembly leading
to full democracy in 2013.

Jibril reaffirmed the plan was for elections to the body that will draft a
constitution to be held in eight months.

Gaddafi's body remained in Misrata, bearing wounds assumed to have been
inflicted by fighters from the city who hauled him from a drain in his
hometown Sirte. A field commander in Misrata worried that trouble was

"The fear now is what is going to happen next," he said, speaking to Reuters
privately, as ordinary Libyans, some taking pictures for family albums,
filed in under armed guard to see for themselves that the man they feared
was truly dead.

"There is going to be regional in-fighting. You have Zintan and Misrata on
one side and then Benghazi and the east," the guerrilla said. "There is
in-fighting even inside the army."


Comparisons with Iraq after Saddam Hussein are tempered by the absence of
the Sunni-Shi'ite divide which ravaged that country. However, as in Iraq,
there are vast energy resources at stake and international powers keen to
exploit them.

Regional enmities thrive, as well as differences between Islamists and
secularists and among those who once served Gaddafi - like NTC head Abdel
Jalil - and others. There is also ethnic tension between Arabs and Berbers.

Gaddafi's surviving family, in exile, have asked that his body and that of
his son Mo'tassim be handed over to tribal kinsmen from Sirte. NTC officials
said they were trying to arrange a secret resting place to avoid loyalist
supporters making it a shrine.

Unlike on Friday, Gaddafi's body was covered by a blanket that left only his
head exposed, hiding bruises on his torso and scratch marks on his chest
that had earlier been visible.

A Reuters reporter who viewed the body said Gaddafi's head had been turned
to the left. That hid a bullethole that earlier could be seen on the left
side of his face.


Gaddafi's family and international human rights groups have urged an inquiry
into how Gaddafi, 69, was killed, since gory cellphone video footage showed
him alive but being beaten and taunted by his captors. Jibril said on the
day that Gaddafi was killed in "crossfire" in an ambulance taking him to

But an ambulance driver in Sirte told Reuters Gaddafi was already dead by
the time he picked him up, and a local military commander in Misrata said
"over-enthusiastic" fighters had taken matters into their own hands:

"We wanted to keep him alive. But the young guys...," he told Reuters.
"Things went out of control."

The International Criminal Court at The Hague had wanted to try Gaddafi for
war crimes and may yet be able to try his son Saif al-Islam if he is found.
NTC officials believe he escaped from the last redoubt in Sirte, after
French jets had scattered a convoy of dozens of vehicles trying to flee with
his father.

Intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, the third man wanted by the ICC,
managed to reach Niger, officials have said.

Libyans also want to try some of the old guard at home.

Despite the qualms of some abroad, few compatriots are troubled by Gaddafi's
bloody end, captured in clips of cellphone video broadcast around the world.

"People in the West don't understand the agony and pain that the people went
through during the past 42 years," said Jibril, who added he felt "reborn"
when he heard the news.

Abdulatif, a pilot, who came to see the body in Misrata, asked: "What would
he tell the mother whose children were killed or the girls who were raped?
If he lived and was killed a thousand times that would still only be a

Nonetheless, some Libyans have expressed unease at the way Gaddafi's body
has been treated - Muslim custom dictates it should have been buried by
sundown on Thursday - and at other matters of religion and respect for the

Gaddafi's daughter Aisha, her mother and two of her brothers fled to Algeria
after the fall of Tripoli. Aisha gave birth on the day she arrived.

The government in Algiers has angered the NTC by refusing to send them back.
But an Algerian newspaper on Saturday quoted official sources saying that,
following the death of the head of the family, they might now reconsider.
(Additional reporting by Taha Zargoun in Sirte, Barry Malone, Yasmine Saleh
and Jessica Donati in Tripoli, Brian Rohan in Benghazi, Christian Lowe, Jon
Hemming and Andrew Hammond in Tunis, Samia Nakhoul in Amman, Tom Pfeiffer at
Dead Sea, Jordan, David Brunnstrom in Brussels and Lamine Chikhi in Algiers;
Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Andrew Roche)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


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