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Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, came out of hiding after going missing six years ago and announced his intention to return to politics and regain control of Libya.
Speaking in an interview with The New York Times, Gaddafi said he intended to “restore lost unity” after a decade of chaos following the death of his father, and did not excluded from running for the presidency.
The 49-year-old is still wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity and was sentenced to death by a Libyan court in 2015.
Saif al-Islam Gadhafi (pictured in 2011, file photo), the son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, came out of hiding after going missing six years ago and announced his intention to return to politics and resume power. control of Libya
Gaddafi, in his first public comments since going underground, claimed that despite his belief, he would enjoy broad support from the Lubien public who he said has grown frustrated with the disparate factions fighting for the control.
“It’s not in their best interests to have a strong government,” he told The New York Times, speaking from a two-story villa inside a gated complex in Zintan, in. western North African country. “This is why they are afraid of the elections.
“They are against the idea of a president. They are against the idea of a state, of a government whose legitimacy comes from the people.
Before his father’s death in 2011 at the hands of a militia, Gaddafi was the alleged successor to power in Libya. He told the newspaper that in the decade since his father’s capture and murder, politicians have done nothing for Libyans through misery.
“I have been away from the Libyan people for 10 years,” he said. “You have to come back slowly, slowly. Like a striptease. You have to play with their minds a bit.
He also refused to apologize for the atrocities committed by his father’s regime and defended his record as a leader, saying most Libyans now believe the government should have taken a tougher stance against the rebels.
The 49-year-old (pictured in 2011) is still wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity and was sentenced to death by a Libyan court in 2015. The sentence was never carried out, and he has been hiding since his capture
“What happened in Libya was not a revolution,” he said. “You can call it a civil war or days of evil. It is not a revolution.
Saif al-Islam is the second sun of dictator Muammar Gaddafi who ruled Libya with an iron fist from 1969 until his brutal death in 2011.
He was educated at the University of Tripoli before studying for an MBA in Vienna and a doctorate at the London School of Economics.
Gaddafi was seen by some as a modernizing influence within his father’s regime, and some credited him with presiding over a brief period of reform and liberalization during the final years of the dictatorship.
However, his reputation was tarnished when he supported the government’s crackdown on anti-government protests in 2011 and warned of “rivers of blood” if the revolution was not avoided. The protests in Libya were part of the Arab Spring.
Estimates are very high, but up to 25,000 civilians and soldiers are believed to have been killed in the Libyan civil war.
Saif al-Islam is the second sun of dictator Muammar Gaddafi (pictured in 2011) who ruled Libya with an iron fist from 1969 until his brutal death in 2011
Like his father, Saif al-Islam was captured. He was found in southern Libya after the collapse of his father’s regime and held prisoner by militia in the town of Zintan.
However, the militia refused to hand him over to the ICC in The Hague, which charged him with war crimes allegedly committed during the civil war.
The group allowed him to stand trial in Tripoli by video link, where he was sentenced to death in 2015, but was not followed up.
It was later reported that Gaddafi had been released by the militia, but he no longer appeared in public amid rumors that he was either dead or preparing for a political comeback. The ICC has requested that he be brought to trial.
Saif al-Islam said “he was convinced that these legal issues could be resolved if a majority of the Libyan people chose him as their leader.”
In 2018, the Libyan Popular Front party claimed that Gaddafi would run as a presidential candidate, but he never made a public appearance.
Speaking in an interview with The New York Times, Gaddafi (pictured in 2011) said he intended to “restore the lost unity” after a decade of chaos following the death of his father, and did not rule out running for the presidency.
In 2020, Bloomberg reported that two Russians were arrested in the country allegedly involved in a plot to install Gaddafi as the pro-Moscow Libyan president.
In the interview with the New York Times, Gaddafi claimed he was now friends with his former captors, claiming that they “are now my friends”, adding that the militia realized that he could be a powerful ally.
Libya has been in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising toppled dictator Gaddafi in 2011 and divided the North African country between a UN-backed government in Tripoli and rival authorities loyal to Hifter in east, each supported by different armed and foreign groups. Governments.
A return to power could prove difficult for Gaddafi, with a number of potential rivals blocking his path.
One of those competitors is said to be Khalifa Haftar, the general who controls much of eastern Libya and enjoys the support of Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Another, Fathi Bashagar, is the former Libyan interior minister and enjoys the support of Turkey and other Western governments.
Last October, a ceasefire was signed that largely froze the long civil war, but the country remains bitterly divided between east and west and is teeming with foreign troops and mercenaries from Russia, Middle East and Africa.
Pictured: Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi explode after an airstrike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah in March 2011
A factional deal was struck to hold an election in early December, but diplomats said they had little hope for the vote to continue.
When asked if it seemed strange to him to seek refuge among the Libyan people while on the run in 2011, he replied: “We are like fish, and the Libyan people are like a sea to us. .
“Without them, we die. This is where we get support. We’re hiding here. We’re fighting here. We get support from there. The Libyan people are our ocean.