Gaddafi calls on Libyan to ‘liberate Libya from NATO and traitors’ a day after Libyan rebels captured a strategic town west of Tripoli.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s envoy for Libya flew into Tunis on 15 August, saying he would be joining talks between rebels and the representatives of Libyan leader Gaddafi. Former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul Ilah al-Khatib said negotiations on Libya’s future would be taking place in a hotel in the Tunis suburbs.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi urged his people on today to “liberate Libya” from NATO and traitors, a day after rebels captured a key town on the road west to Tunisia, severing Tripoli’s main supply route. Late on 14 August, representatives of Gaddafi’s government were holding talks with rebels at a hotel on the southern Tunisian island of Djerba, a source with direct knowledge of the talks said, although a government official denied it.
The talks followed a dramatic advance by the rebels that won them control of the town of Az Zawiyah, 50 km west of Tripoli on the coast, enabling them to halt food and fuel supplies from Tunisia to Gaddafi’s stronghold in the capital.
Tripoli is not under immediate threat from a rebel attack at the moment, but rebel forces are now in their strongest position since the uprising against 41 years of Colonel Qaddafi’s rule began in February, controlling the coast both east and west of Tripoli. The rebels are helped by NATO aircraft which, under a UN mandate to protect civilians from Colonel Qaddafi’s forces, are bombing military facilities and equipment that are trying to crush the rebel fighters.
Gaddafi’s speech today, 15 August, delivered over a poor quality telephone line and broadcast by state television in audio only, was his first public address since rebel fighters launched their latest offensive, the biggest in months.
(Sources: Al Arabiya, AFP; 15 August 2011)