Libya: Muammar Gaddafi’s son dreams of returning to power

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Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of its former dictator Libya Muammar Gaddafi wants to “restore the lost unity” of the country, after a decade of chaos, and hinted that he will run for the presidency, in one of the rare interviews he gave to the New York Times.

“Libyan politicians have only brought misery. It is time to go back to the past. The country is on its knees (…) there is no money, there is no security. “There is no life here,” said Saif al-Islam, 49, who has reappeared for the first time in years.

In 2011, after remaining in power for four decades, the Muammar Gaddafi and his regime collapsed. He and his close associates were killed, imprisoned or exiled. Three of his sons were killed but the fate of the fourth, his alleged successor, Saif al-Islam, remained a mystery. He was captured in November 2011 by an armed group in the northwestern Libyan city of Zeden and sentenced to death in 2015 in an express trial. The organization that held him, however, refused to extradite him to the Tripoli authorities or to the International Criminal Court, which was looking for him for “crimes against humanity” and, on the contrary, released him in 2017. Since then, his traces have disappeared.

In his first meeting with a foreign journalist in a decade, Saif al-Islam said he was now a “free man” and would arrange his return to politics, without elaborating on how.

“Disappointed with the revolution,” the guerrillas who had captured him “finally realized he could be a powerful ally,” he said in an interview in May at a “luxury two-story villa” in a closed Zenden apartment complex. The newspaper also published photos of him, in which he wears a black cap with gold patterns, a black turban on his head and a gray beard.

His possible candidacy for the presidency, however, runs into two major problems: his conviction by a Libyan court and his arrest warrant by the ICC. He believes that “legal problems could be resolved through talks if the majority of the Libyan people elect him” as head of state, writes the NYT, concluding: “Saif seems to believe that he is the only one who can represent all Libyans “.

When asked if it seemed strange to him that he was seeking refuge in Libyan homes when he was hiding, in 2011 Saif appeared as enigmatic as his father and the views he expressed in his famous “Green Book”: “We are like fish and the Libyan people are like the sea to us. Without him, we die. From there we receive support. We are hiding here. We are fighting here. “The Libyan people are our ocean.”

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