MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) – Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will be buried today in a secret desert grave, a National Transitional Council official said, ending a wrangle over his rotting corpse that led many to fear for Libya’s governability.
With their Western allies uneasy that Gaddafi was battered and shot after his capture on Thursday, rebels had put the body on show in a cold store while they argued over what to do with it, until its decay forced them yesterday to close the doors.
“He will be buried tomorrow in a simple burial with sheikhs attending the burial. It will be an unknown location in the open desert,” the official told Reuters by telephone, adding that the decomposition of the body had reached the point where the “corpse cannot last any longer”.
The killing of the 69-year-old in his hometown of Sirte brought to a close eight months of war, finally ending a nervous two-month hiatus since the motley rebel forces of the NTC overran the capital Tripoli.
But it also threatened to lay bare the regional and tribal rivalries that present the NTC with its biggest challenge.
NTC officials had said negotiations were going on with Gaddafi’s tribal kinsmen from Sirte and within the interim leadership over where and how to dispose of the bodies, and on what the Misrata rebel leaders in possession of the corpses might receive in return for cooperation.
“No agreement was reached for his tribe to take him,” the official told Reuters.
With the decay of the body forcing the NTC leadership’s hand, it appeared to have decided that an anonymous grave would at least ensure the plot did not become a shrine.
An NTC official had told Reuters several days ago that there would be only four witnesses to the burial, and all would swear on the Koran never to reveal the location.
Rebel fears that Gaddafi’s sons might mount an insurgency have been largely allayed by the death of two of those who wielded most power, military commander Khamis and