Home | News    Monday 21 February 2011

INTERVIEW: Libyan opposition figure calls on world to provide humanitarian aid


February 20, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The Libyan people are in desperate need of food and medical supplies as they battle security forces and mercenaries, an opposition figure told Sudan Tribune today.

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Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, gestures as he speaks during an address on state television in Tripoli, in this still image taken from video, February 20, 2011 (Reuters)

Anti-government protesters rallied in Tripoli’s streets, tribal leaders spoke out against Gaddafi’s 41-year iron rule and army units defected to the opposition as oil exporter Libya endured one of the bloodiest revolts to convulse the Arab world.

Medical sources and others on the ground have said that at least 219 had died nationwide in the violence, mostly through gunshots. Doctors from inside Libya speaking to Arab TV channels are complaining that supplies in hospitals are running low.

"We urge humanitarian groups to send relief supplies particularly food and medicine and if possible blood donations, to the people of Libya through the borders with Egypt," Hadi Shalluf told Sudan Tribune by phone from Paris.

Shalluf confirmed media reports that the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, is now largely controlled by protesters.

Later in the day, eye-witnesses reported that thousands in the Libyan capital of Tripoli took the streets throwing stones at billboards of Gaddafi.

The Libyan-French lawyer, who says his father was killed by the regime, said that options are now limited for Gaddafi.

"This will spread all across the country and there will be heavy fighting leading to bloodshed which will further aggravate the people," Shalluf said.

"Gaddafi will either be arrested or forced to escape. Even that last option may not be possible as there are only few countries that will be willing to receive him. Even Saudi Arabia will be reluctant to host him," he added.

Tunisia’s former president Zain al-Abedine Ben Ali, who was ousted in a popular uprising last month, fled to Saudi Arabia where he is currently residing. Riyadh also offered to receive former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, also forced out after street protests this month.

Shalluf said Gaddafi will seek to avoid staying in countries that are signatories to the International Criminal Court (ICC) statute for fear of future prosecution. He mentioned Zimbabwe, not an ICC member, as possible safe haven for the Libyan leader.

The Libyan lawyer, who is the first Arab to be registered as a counsel before the Hague tribunal to represent any possible suspects, urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to refer the situation in Libya to the ICC as they did with Darfur in 2005.

"We are witnessing war crimes and genocide against Libyans by the regime and mercenaries with a shoot-to-kill policy. The civilian casualties inflicted is intentional and by no means collateral damage, Violence is the only language Gaddafi understands," Shalluf said.

He noted that last year the ICC prosecutor opened an investigation into Kenya’s post-election violence which claimed over 1,300 lives and displaced many more thousands.

Shalluf criticized the international community particularly the European Union (EU) for their silence on the "crimes committed against the Libyan people". He attributed that to their multi-billion dollar trade with Libya.

"Targeting the oil pipelines in Libya is the only way you will get their [EU] attention," Shalluf said.

On Sunday, the leader of the Al-Zuwayya tribe in eastern Libya threatened to cut oil exports to Western countries within 24 hours unless authorities stop what he called the "oppression of protesters".

Shalluf said that he anticipated the downfall of Gaddafi "in no more than two weeks" adding that major tribes such as Warfalla are rebelling with army units defecting as well.

Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared on national television on Sunday night in an attempt to both threaten and calm people, saying the army would enforce security at any price.

Wagging a finger at the camera, he blamed Libyan exiles for fomenting the violence. But he also promised dialogue on reforms and wage rises.

But Shalluf described the concessions as "too late".

In a related issue, the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Khalid Moussa denied reports alleging involvement of Sudanese expatriates in Libya in the current unrest.

Should Gaddafi be toppled, Sudan will lose one of its main allies in the region. The Libyan leader has been at the forefront of African Union (AU) efforts seeking backing to Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir against ICC indictment.

It was Gaddafi who forced the AU summit in Sirte in July 2009 to adopt a resolution instructing all members not to apprehend Bashir even if they are ICC members.

African diplomats later said that AU countries were not allowed to debate the text on the ICC. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Gaddafi resorted to bullying his peers to accept the decision.

Libya also plays a major role in Darfur with strong ties to rebel groups and has made several attempts to forge a solution to the eight years conflict. It is currently hosting leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Khalil Ibrahim after being barred entry to Chad.

Khartoum has asked Tripoli to expel Ibrahim but their request was rejected. However, the Libyan government promised not to allow JEM chief to make any statements out of there.


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  • 21 February 2011 07:59, by Omoni Atari

    Gadafi must die...

    repondre message

    • 22 February 2011 05:25, by Koang

      Dear Gadaafi.
      Who taught you to use Shoot-to-kills and collateral damages to people who are just protesting to demind their rights, For God sake, you better leave the country and people in peace like as did by Hosni and Ali. Good leader loves his/her people dearly.
      Secondly, your son is creating a tribal conflicts which may take years to healed/recounciled. And let him conduct-himself, by not using his fingers(finger-pointing) on tv.
      you (Gadaafi) enought is enought , 41 years are enought. The country is not for you alone and your sons, let others also rule!!!gooo and goooo to hell may be!

      repondre message

  • 21 February 2011 08:24, by Liberator

    Dear Readers:

    Hanging on to power for so long is recipe for disaster. Libya is tribal based society, therefor, the only Gaddafi have been able to hang on for more than four decades is because he basically, bought off loyalty by bribing the tribal chiefs...

    but this doesn’t work in the 21st century. South Sudan leaders beware & warned!! No leaders will ever be elected to office for more than two terms of(4 years each).

    I stronly condenmed the killing of peaceful protesters.

    But I gave Libya a credit for helping(supplying arms)to Anya Anya II & SPLA movements in the late seventies and early-to-mid eighties against Nimieri regime.

    repondre message

    • 21 February 2011 09:18, by 1988

      Are brother gaddafi and his sons must remain for a longer term to keep the state of libya stable, the belief of a united african continent must remain in our hearts, lets not be silly my brothers and sisters.

      repondre message

    • 21 February 2011 12:20, by Sudani Logik

      Ghaddafi should have read the writing on the wall but he chose to use suppression instead, now he’ll pay the price. Its just a matter of days or weeks and its goodbye to the Colonel.

      As for people proposing a two term limit of four years, I disagree, 8 years is not enough to implement change and build institutions in the case of an emerging nation like South Sudan or even North Sudan for that matter, a 3 term limit of 5 years each is more reasonable, 15-years is ample time but people must also remember that its up to the voter to determine how long a leader stays in power in a democratic system. After one term of bad performance it could easily be the only term that leader stays in power, however if that leader is doing a good job, then its up to the people to re-elect him to continue doing a good job for a further two terms.

      Governments are like any major company, if the managing director of a company is heading successful progress then its a wise decision to keep that head, if its the opposite, the company shareholders become the equivalent of the public and can remove that head from the chair of power. So all this talk about presidential terms should be accompanied with reasonable arguments not just emotions for fear of potential dictatorships.

      Every country is different, those with strong civil, judicial and governmental institutions could compliment a two term limit but others with far weaker or non-existent institutions may need to tread carefully with the issue of presidential term limit or the structure of government.

      repondre message

    • 21 February 2011 14:43, by acathmac

      dear readers let fight such leadrs in our african continent

      woe to Gadafi!!!!!!!!!
      how can you just killed innocent citizens of your country whom you claims your self to be the head of the state forever why killing them who will remain with you in your damn country,shame on you killing future leaders in the country you will not be allowed to escape in any other African countries for exile and you must face the ICC together with your friend Bashir you on your way to indictments, lois Ocampo is now counting your mistakes one by one

      repondre message

  • 21 February 2011 18:40, by 1988

    4 year three term limit.

    repondre message

  • 22 February 2011 05:27, by Ajak Johnson

    Gaddafi government must to leave in order to save the life of innocent people. If there is democracy then the government is for the people and if they decide to change the ruliing system it is their will.

    repondre message

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