Muammar Gaddafi laid out an apocalyptic vision for the country which had dared to overthrow him yesterday, demanding from his remaining supporters "Let Libya be on fire" and vowing death for those guilty of disloyalty. "Those who do not love me do not deserve to live," he declared in his latest message broadcast yesterday.
Colonel Gaddafi threatened to unleash a "long war against the agents of colonialism" in a recorded audio message broadcast on the Al-Rai channel in Syria on the 42nd anniversary of his seizure of power. He went on to vow, with predictable ferocity: "We will not surrender. We are not women. We will keep fighting".
While the words of the fallen dictator under pursuit from vengeful rebel fighters may have rung hollow, there was enough trepidation about his following among armed tribes for the opposition administration to extend the deadline for a negotiated settlement by another seven days.
Sirte, Col Gaddafi's birthplace, Bani Walid and Sabah are all towns under siege by the rebels. The Transitional National Council had given regime forces until Saturday, the first day after Eid al-Fitr, to surrender before the new date was set.
There was evidence of the power the Gaddafi family still wields psychologically in the areas around his last remaining strongholds. The nearer one got to Bani Walid, where the dictator's son, Saif al-Islam, may be hiding, the more green regime flags flew and residents seemed reluctant to believe that a new order was really in place in Tripoli. Some said they believed that the regime will launch a guerrilla war from another country and may, one day, return. The fear of retribution was highlighted by the discovery of documents at a Tripoli prison allegedly showing that Col Gaddafi had ordered the execution of 100,000 people.
Rebel commanders in the town of Tarhuna claimed that telephone interceptions by Nato have placed Saif al-Islam in Bani Walid. Colonel Gaddafi himself, according to the officers, was in Bani Walid but has since moved on to locations further south, Sabha and then Ghadames on the Algerian border – an area which had seen a number of Western air strikes in the last few days.Reuse content