Libya: Muammar Gaddafi Vows Fight as World Backs New Leaders

Moammar Gadhafi warned from hiding on Thursday that tribes loyal to him were well-armed and preparing for battle, hours after rebels hoping for a peaceful surrender extended the deadline for loyalist forces to give up in the longtime Libyan leader’s hometown of Sirte.

Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi vowed again on Thursday not to surrender, in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. Photo: Adam Bearne/Flickr

In the message put out by the pro-Gaddafi Syria-based Arabic-language Arrai Oruba satellite television, Fugitive Libyan dictator Thursday urged his supporters to fight on, even as Libya’s new interim rulers met world leaders to discuss reshaping a nation torn by 42 years of one-man rule and six months of war.

Muammar Gaddafi has no intention of surrendering even after losing most of the country to the rebels, Gaddafi himself made it clear in his latest live address. “Let there be a long fight and let Libya be engulfed in flames,” Gaddafi said in a live audio message broadcast by Syrian-owned al-Rai channel, as cited by Al Arabiya TV.

“We will not give up. We are not women. We will continue fighting,” Gaddafi was quoted as saying, on September 1, which marked the 42nd anniversary of his seizing power in a coup in 1969. The dictator projected confidence that his supporters would not abandon him, and that the Libyan tribesmen loyal to him are heavily-armed.

“Without their [the tribes] consent you can’t pass through their territories,” he stated on al-Rai. “We will fight the collaborators the Libyan people are not a herd of sheep they are heavily armed. As you are aware the aggression works toward muzzling my voice. They [the imperialists] know that my voice represents danger to them. It is danger to imperialism and their treacerous collaborators,” he added.

“This is living proof that imperialism and occupiers are very week. The occupiers are weak. This is an intrigue, this is a plot stand up to them by the bullet. Their supplies will run out, but ours will never run out. We will be rewarded by victory.”

“We enjoy the grassroots support. It is the Libyan people that are assaulted. We can never surrender, we will not wave our sacrifices,” the Libyan dictator vowed in spite of being put in a position to struggle for his survival after losing the Battle for Tripoli last week.

His message followed similar defiant words from his son Seif al-Islam on Wednesday night, who said he, his father and “the whole family” were still in Tripoli, which fell to the rebels on August 20 after days of fierce fighting.

Meanwhile, the rebels’ Transitional National Council is tangled in talks with the tribes of Harawa and Sirte, reportedly include some Gaddafi loyalists, for a peaceful surrender of the region of Sirte, one of Gaddafi’s last two major strongholds.

The Magharba tribe based in the Bin Jawad area have been given the role of negotiating on behalf of the rebel government, Al Jazeera reported. The tribes of Sirte and Harawa want guarantees that Libya’s fighters will not loot, burn public building or search housese, while the NTC wants all weapons that Gaddafi dstributed to the tribes, handed over.

But rebel sources said unconfirmed reports put the Gaddafis in the loyalist-held town of Bani Walid, southeast of the capital. “We have reports that Muammer Gaddafi has been in Bani Walid for the past two days, but these reports are not totally confirmed,” NTC vice chairman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told AFP.

He said clashes were still going on between rebel and pro-Gaddafi forces near the town. “The revolutionary fighters are making progress and we are hoping for an end to the conflict soon,” he said.

A rebel commander, Abdel Raziq, said in Tarhuna, between Tripoli and Bani Walid he believed Seif al-Islam and another son, Mutassim, were in the latter town. “About 80 percent of the people in Bani Walid are with the rebels and only 20 percent are with Gaddafi,” he said. “We expect them to surrender, but if they don’t we will attack from three fronts,” he added without giving other details.

Gaddafi, however, boasted that his last bastions were impregnable. “Who can overcome Bani Walid, Sirte or Tarhuna? These towns are home to armed tribes and nobody can govern Libya without their consent,” he said in his fourth audio message since rebels entered Tripoli on August 20, seemingly unaware that insurgents were already in Tarhuna.

“At the end of the day, we will win the battle, the colonisers will go back to their countries and the agents will be finished with,” Gaddafi said. The insurgents had earlier said they believed Kadhafi was hiding in his coastal hometown of Sirte, but another rebel commander said on Thursday they no longer thought that.

Seif al-Islam also vowed that the loyalists would fight to the death, in a separate audio message broadcast by Arrai. But at the same time another son, Saadi Gaddafi, told the Al-Arabiya television channel he was ready to give himself up “If my surrender stops the spilling of blood.”

Algeria allowed one of Gaddafi’s wives, two of his sons and some of his grandchildren to cross the border on Saturday and seek sanctuary, angering the NTC. But Algeria’s Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said on Thursday there was no question of granting Gaddafi himself asylum.

Sirte, 450 km east of Tripoli, and Sabha, 600 km to the south, are Gaddafi’s two last major strongholds. Gaddafi’s audio statement, broadcast on al-Rai TV, has marked the 42nd anniversary of the coup against King Idris I that brought the Libya leader to power, while leaders meet in France for the “Friends of Libya” conference to recognize the National Transitional Council. [via Reuters, CBC (CA) and MSNBC]

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