Rebel leader says Gaddafi can stay in Libya

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Muammar Gaddafi and his family can stay in Libya as part of a political deal to end the five-month-old war provided they give up power, a senior rebel leader was yesterday quoted as saying.

Opposition leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told the Wall Street Journal that the Libyan leader and his family could stay in the country as long as rebel leaders can decide where and under what conditions they remain.

Jalil’s offer appeared to be a significant reversal for the Libyan opposition leader, who is chairman of the rebels’ Transitional National Council, based in Benghazi. Until now, the rebels have insisted that Gaddafi must leave.
“Gaddafi can stay in Libya but it will have conditions,” Jalil said. “We will decide where he stays and who watches him. The same conditions will apply to his family.”

Jalil appeared to be backing up comments by U.S., Italian and French officials in recent days, the Journal said.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday that Gaddafi could remain in Libya as long as he gives up power.

The United States and Italy have said Gaddafi must be removed from power, but his fate is up to the Libyan people, leaving open the possibility that he remain in Libya.

Jalil said rebels would continue their offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins early next month.
“The war will end in one of three ways,” Jalil said. “Gaddafi will surrender, he will flee Libya, or he will be killed or captured by one of his bodyguards or by rebel forces.”