Gaddafi Still in Libya – Denies Intentions To Go Into Exile

The former Libyan dictator was speaking to a Syrian TV station by phone, saying that he has no intentions to leave the country, dismissing the reports about his travel to Niger or Burkina Faso as lies and psychological warfare.

Eyewitnesses have reportedly seen gold and cash on a large pro-Gaddafi military convoy that arrived in Libya’s southwestern neighbour Niger yesterday, which sparked rumors that Gaddafi might want to make his way there as well.

The interim governor of the Libyan central bank, Qazzim Azzuz, said that the bank sold 29 tonnes of gold to local businessmen in April and May, while the bank was still under control of the Gaddafi government. That could have brought as much as one billion Euro, money that was supposed to be used for payment of wages.

The gold is not missing from the bank’s own reserves says Mr. Azzuz, so it might have come from Gaddafi’s own resources. A spokesperson of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said today, that if Libyan money or gold really has been transported to Niger, the new government wants it back.

Meanwhile, Niger’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum confirmed that several groups of Libyan refugees have arrived in his country but denied that Gaddafi or his sons are among them. Mr Bazoum said: “We told them that we can accept them to stay for humanitarian reasons, but they have to respect what the international law allows them to do or not allow them to do.”

Answering the request of the NTC to deny Libyan refugees entry into Niger, the minister continued that this would be simply beyond the means of his country because the border is “too big”. Mr. Bazoum also said, that the refugees already in Niger would be free to stay or to travel to a third country. The minister was talking about less than 20 people while another report yesterday described the Libyan convoy as consisting of 250 armoured vehicles.

While there seems to be a manhunt for Gaddafi going on, organized by the new Libyan government, one gets the  impression that the Western governments would not be too disappointed if the former ‘Revolutionary Leader’ would just vanish into thin air. But given the history of this colorful figure, that is rather unlikely to happen.

(Sources: BBC, Al Jazeera; 8 Sept 2011)


About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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