Mon, Oct 24, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Libya to be declared ‘free’ as Qaddafi controversy rages

AFP, BENGHAZI, LIBYA

Libya’s new leaders were yesterday to declare liberation in the wake of former Libyan leader Muammer Qaddafi’s death, paving the way for the formation of an interim government followed by the first free vote in 42 years.

The long-awaited declaration was being overshadowed, however, by raging controversy over the circumstances of Qaddafi’s killing after he was captured alive during the fall of his hometown Sirte, with Britain saying the incident had “stained” the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Senior NTC officials said an autopsy has been carried out on Qaddafi’s body, which would be handed to his relatives after consulting with them on the location of his burial.

The new regime had said the liberation declaration would be made later yesterday in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that broke out in February.

The NTC had promised to proclaim the country’s liberation after Sirte, Qaddafi’s last bastion of support, fell and the ousted despot was controversially killed on Thursday.

Under the NTC’s roadmap, an interim government would be formed within one month of the declaration, followed within eight months by elections for a constitutional assembly — the first democratic vote in Libya since Qaddafi seized power in a coup 42 years ago.

Parliamentary and presidential elections would be held within a year after that.

Interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said an investigation was being conducted into the circumstances of Qaddafi’s killing after several foreign governments and human rights watchdogs posed questions.

Disquiet has grown internationally over how Qaddafi met his end after NTC fighters hauled him out of a culvert where he was hiding following NATO air strikes on the convoy in which he had been trying to flee his falling hometown.

Mobile phone videos show him still alive at that point.

NTC leaders are adamant he was shot in the head when he was caught “in crossfire” between his supporters and new regime fighters soon after his capture.

Libyan interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told the BBC’s HARDtalk program that he would rather Qaddafi had survived.

“To be honest with you at the personal level I wish he was alive. I want to know why he did this to the Libyan people,” he said. “I wish I were his prosecutor in his trial.”.”

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