Qaddafi's son declares he's leaving politics
The Associated Press
Published: August 22, 2008
The Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi's son announced he will no longer be involved in politics, calling for political reforms and denying he would succeed his father, as many have expected.
Seif al-Islam Qaddafi gave no explanation for his decision, and in Libya's extremely opaque politics it could not immediately be determined if it will seriously be carried out. He acknowledged the move could raise speculation of a rift between him and his father, but denied that was the case. There have been no public signs of any dispute between the two.
"I don't have any problem" with the elder Qaddafi, Seif al-Islam said in a speech Wednesday to thousands of young Libyans in the southern city of Sabha. "I just met with him before I came here."
"I have decided not to intervene in state affairs," he said in the speech, broadcast on state television. "In the past, I used to intervene (in politics) due to the absence of institutions."
The younger Qaddafi holds no official post but has grown in prominence in recent years, directing economic reforms and playing a major role in negotiations that restored Libya's ties with the West after decades of isolation. That fueled speculation he was being groomed to take power after his 66-year-old father steps down or dies.
Today in Africa & Middle East
The elder Qaddafi has ruled Libya since he came to power in a 1969 coup. He created a so-called "Jamahiriya" - an Arabic term he invented meaning approximately "rule of the masses" - that claims to hand direct rule to the people, but has led to an unusual system where lines of government power are unclear, there is no constitution or opposition, and Qaddafi's word is law.
In his speech, Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, dressed in a dark business suit, called for political reforms to better regulate Libya's system by rule of law, guaranteeing democracy, an independent press and human rights, "without harming the Jamahiriya system."
The elder Qaddafi has backed economic reforms but has appeared reluctant toward any major political change. But his son's mention of the meeting with his father, and the airing of the speech on state TV, suggested his comments were condoned by his father.
"We need to work on something that we could perhaps call a constitution, to move forward the Jamahiriya era," Seif al-Islam Qaddafi said. He suggested this was already happening, saying the government was working on "a set of laws" and an "administrative framework" that would make the Jamahiriya a "unique example" to other nations.
In his speech, the younger Qaddafi again ruled out intentions for succession, saying his father's role was enshrined in the Libyan system but cannot be passed down.
"This is not a farm to inherit," he said.
Educated in Europe and fluent in English, German and French, Seif al-Islam Qaddafi heads the his own International Association for Charitable Organizations, a network concerned with issues like human rights and education. It is officially not governmental but has been a platform for drawing up Libya's economic liberalization program.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed more than 500 points lower Monday as stocks in the United States, Europe and Asia dropped after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the takeover of Merrill Lynch and worries rose about the future of insurer American International Group.
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