Saif Gaddafi tests water with approach to rebels

Middlemen make case for Libyan dictator's son as 'reformer' committed to power-sharing and elections. Kim Sengupta reports

Representatives of one of Muammar Gaddafi's sons are said to have stressed his support for sweeping reforms and democratic elections during informal contacts with Libya's rebel leadership to try to strike a deal to end the conflict.

Diplomatic sources say that supporters acting through middlemen for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi have been stressing his past links with the most senior members of the provisional administration in Benghazi to show his commitment ahead of a possible deal.

The Independent disclosed last week that Saif was proposing an agreement which would limit the role of his father and include opposition figures in a caretaker government.

Elections would be held in the near future and a "reconciliation process" put in place in an attempt to heal the bitter wounds between the regime and its opponents.

Initial approaches have been made by Libyans, mainly living abroad, who say they want to end the strife which has claimed the lives of thousands of fellow citizens.



Those trying to present the case for Saif point to his previous working relationship with Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, the head of the rebels' national council, and Ali Issawi, its foreign affairs representative.



Mr Jalil, as a senior judge and later the president of the court of appeal, had repeatedly ruled against the regime during trials. While this led to rising criticism among some members of Col Gaddafi's coterie, Saif – who had projected himself as a moderniser – persuaded his father to appoint Mr Jalil as justice minister.



In 2010, when Mr Jalil again asserted his independence by criticising the system in a televised speech and said he was leaving his post, it was Saif, his supporters claim, who ensured his resignation was not accepted.



Following the revolution and Mr Jalil's appointment as the head of the rebel movement, the regime offered a reward of $400,000 for his capture. Saif has apparently claimed that he opposed the offering of the bounty. No evidence has been produced by his supporters to back up this assertion.



Mr Issawi, meanwhile, was twice persuaded to stay on after attempting to resign as the minister for economy, trade and investment. He was subsequently drafted into a "shadow" working committee set up by Saif which, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable, was charged with hammering out specifics of a government reform programme. Mr Issawi was later appointed ambassador to India.



There is little to suggest that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's campaign to project himself as the man to bring peace to Libya is having any success.



Yesterday the Italian government recognised the rebel administration as the legitimate representative of Libya. The Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, declared that "a solution for the future of Libya has a pre-condition, that the Gaddafi regime leaves and is out and that Gaddafi himself and his family leave the country". Mr Frattini was speaking after a meeting with Mr Issawi.



A senior Western diplomatic source said yesterday: "People may say that Saif al-Islam's proposal is dead in the water, but clearly he does not think that.



"There is evidence that some tentative stuff, probes are taking place through third parties. But we continue to face unknowns like what exactly is the position of the old man [Muammar Gaddafi] in all this.



"The regime wants a way out, and the opposition have realised they can't have an easy military victory."



Libya's deputy foreign minister, Abdelati Obeidi, is on a tour of Greece, Turkey and Malta to hold discussions on a possible ceasefire. An official in Athens said: "The Libyan envoy wants to convey that Libya has the intention to negotiate. We don't think that there can be a military solution to the crisis."



The office of the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, said he had been talking with Turkey about a peace deal, which had at one stage envisaged a transition to representative government in Libya with Saif in charge, as well as Britain and the US. The four countries are all members of the international coalition enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya.



Meanwhile the military impasse on the ground continued yesterday, with the revolutionaries failing, yet again, to break into the oil port of Brega which is being held by the regime. Rebel forces entered the university area of the city yesterday, but fell back after regime troops responded with rocket and mortar fire.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project