Gaddafi can stay in Libya if he quits – rebel chief

BENGHAZI, Libya,  (Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi is  welcome to live out his retirement inside Libya as long as he  gives up all power, Libya’s rebel chief said in the clearest  concession the rebels have so far offered.

Gaddafi has resisted all international calls for him to go  and said he will fight to the end, but members of his inner  circle have given indications they are ready to negotiate with  the rebels, including on the Libyan leader’s future.

Gaddafi is still holding on to power, five months into a  rebellion against his 41-year rule and despite a NATO bombing  campaign and an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for  crimes against humanity.

Muammar Gaddafi

“As a peaceful solution, we offered that he can resign and  order his soldiers to withdraw from their barracks and  positions, and then he can decide either to stay in Libya or  abroad,” rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Reuters in an  interview.

“If he desires to stay in Libya, we will determine the place  and it will be under international supervision. And there will  be international supervision of all his movements,” said Jalil,  who heads the rebels’ National Transitional Council.

Speaking in his eastern Libyan stronghold of Benghazi, Abdel  Jalil, Gaddafi’s former justice minister, said he made the  proposal about a month ago through the United Nations but had  yet to receive any response from Tripoli.

He said one suggestion was that Gaddafi could spend his  retirement under guard in a military barracks.

Abdel Jalil’s remarks stirred an emotional reaction in  Benghazi, with a small protest against any talks with Gaddafi  breaking out outside a hotel, and the rebel council playing down  any speculation about a widening rift among its leaders.

Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, a council vice chairman, told reporters  an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court  against Gaddafi had now made any such proposal null and

Meanwhile Turkey, which had close economic ties to Gaddafi  before the uprising, pledged $200 million in aid for the rebels  on Sunday, in addition to a $100 million fund announced in June.

The rebels say they need more than $3 billion to cover  salaries and other needs over the next six months.

“Public demand for reforms should be answered, Gaddafi  should go and Libya shouldn’t be divided,” Turkish Foreign  Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Benghazi.

He added that Turkey saw the rebel council as the people’s  legitimate representative.

DEADLOCK

The conflict in Libya is close to deadlock, with rebels on  three fronts unable to make a decisive advance towards the  Libyan capital and growing strains inside NATO about the cost of  the operation and the lack of a military breakthrough.

Previous attempts to negotiate a peace deal have foundered,  but some analysts say Gaddafi’s entourage — if perhaps not the  Libyan leader himself — may look for a way out as air strikes  and sanctions narrow their options.

Gaddafi’s daughter Aisha said last week her father would be  prepared to cut a deal with the rebels though he would not leave  the country.

But his son, Saif al-Islam, rejected calls for his father to  quit Libya as the price of peace.

“To tell my father to leave the country, it’s a joke. We  will never surrender . We will fight. It’s our country,” he told French TV channel TF1.

“We have to fight for our country and you are going to be  legitimate targets for us,” he said of Western powers that have  led air strikes against Libyan government forces.

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