See also:
» 29.01.2013 - Libya peace very fragile, warns UN
» 31.03.2011 - Libya's Foreign Minister defects
» 24.03.2011 - How cyber-activism lent savvy to North African protests
» 18.03.2011 - Ten nations ready to attack Ghaddafi regime
» 18.03.2011 - Africa defies AU chief's support for Ghaddafi
» 18.03.2011 - France: We can start bombing Libya tonight
» 17.03.2011 - Libya rebels shoot down fighter jets
» 15.03.2011 - Ghaddafi thanks Germany, Russia and China

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Politics | Human rights

Govt: "Separatists behind Libya riots"

Saif al-Islam Ghaddafi speaking on Libyan state TV

© Libya state TV/afrol News
afrol News, 21 February
- Libyan leader Mohammar Ghaddafi's son Saif el-Islam in a televised speech blames Benghazi separatists, drug addicts, foreigners and Islamists for the riots, admitting the situation was out of control.

Saif al-Islam Ghaddafi, known as the "reformist" son of the Libyan leader, made a rare and open-hearted speech on state television this night, for the first time talking about the riots that have shaken the country for the last days.

The fairly contradictive speech, saying both that the situation in eastern Libya was out of control, with the country "at crossroads, and that the army would spare no efforts to regain control.

Mr Ghaddafi said that the riots in Benghazi had come about as people were inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, with foreigners and foreign media fuelling "separatist elements". However, he claimed mostly drug addicts and foreigners were participating in the Benghazi protests.

Poorly prepared army and police troops had responded by shooting at the crowds, which naturally had become angrier, Mr Ghaddafi admitted. "There have been done errors on both sides," he said at one point, while at another point again blaming the entire situation on drug addicts and foreigners.

In Al-Baida, also in eastern Libya, he blamed the protests on Islamist radicals earlier released from prison. These had "declared an emirate if Al-Baida." Mr Ghaddafi claimed, strongly contradicting reports from protesting youths in that city.

He admitted that protesters had practically taken control of Benghazi and Al-Baida. In both cities, civilians had taken control of army materials, including tanks, arms and ammunition. Protesters have reported otherwise, rather mentioning that some police troops had

Protesters in Benghazi, Libya, fleeing gunshots

© Anonymous/afrol News
joined the protests, thus gaining more control of these two eastern cities.

Saif al-Islam Ghaddafi several times reminded Libyans they country was not like Tunisia or Egypt, recalling civil wars in the 1930s and the "tribes and clans" that, according to him, still make up the Libyan society. "Now, everybody is armed," he warned, saying that an escalation would lead to a bloody civil war and a splitting up of the country.

On the other hand, he offered a second choice towards democratic and social reforms. It Libyans chose not to go towards a civil war, government would tomorrow call for a popular meeting - not mentioning who would be invited - to finally write a constitution and embark on democratic reforms.

Mr Ghaddafi however again went back to calling the protesters drug addicts, foreigners, Islamists and separatists, thereby not opening for talks with those now protesting against the regime.

Shortly before the speech, a Libyan diplomat had told the popular Arab broadcaster 'Al Jazeera' that Mr Ghaddafi had "already left the country, going to Venezuela, adding that there had been a shoot-out between his sons. The reports caused celebrations in the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi, and great expectations as Saif al-Islam was to go on air.

The speech therefore came as a great disappointment to most Libyan viewers. Few believe it will do much to stop the protests - rather the contrary - as the regime now has demonstrated its limited powers. The reign of fear definitively is broken in Libya.

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