Libyan official delivers cash to besieged city
SABHA, Libya - Libya’s transitional government delivered $16 million yesterday to this remote southern city beset by fighters loyal to Moammar Khadafy, hoping to bolster support for revolutionary forces. On the other side, Khadafy’s son was seen in a video for the first time since Tripoli fell, trying to rally the remnants of his father’s regime.
Journalists accompanied the oil and finance minister, Ali al-Tarhouni, and the cash on the first flight to touch down in the desert city of Sabha since a NATO enforced no-fly zone order in March. The 20 boxes, each weighing 116 pounds, were delivered to the Sabha central bank.
Revolutionary forces have gained control of much of the area but still face heavy resistance.
“The forces inside these areas are not opposed to joining us but they do not want to disarm,’’ said Ahmed Bashir, spokesman for Libya’s National Transitional Council in Sabha. “They have the weapons and no manpower. We have the manpower and lighter weapons.’’
More than a month after rebels swept into Tripoli and ended Khadafy’s nearly 42-year rule, the fugitive leader’s supporters are still fiercely fighting on three fronts: in Khadafy’s hometown of Sirte, the town of Bani Walid southeast of the capital, and in pockets in the country’s vast desert south, including Sabha.
Most of the recent fighting has occurred in Bani Walid and the Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte.
Khadafy’s whereabouts are unknown, although he has exhorted his supporters to fight on several times in audio messages. His son, Seif, was shown in an amateur video recording yesterday on the Syrian-based Al-Rai TV, which has become the former regime’s mouthpiece.
The video shows Seif cheering and waving with a machine gun in his hand. While he has sported a beard in past appearances, yesterday’s video showed him shaven and wearing a camouflage jacket.
He pumps his fist in the air and addresses a crowd, but there was no audio.
The TV station reported the video was taken Sept. 20 in one of the besieged towns, but did not say which one. Many have speculated that Seif Khadafy is still hiding in Bani Walid.
Seif Khadafy was long the voice of reform in the authoritarian regime, but he threw his support behind his father after the uprising began in mid-February and became a civil war.
Like his father, Seif has been charged by the International Criminal Court with crimes against humanity for the regime’s bloody efforts to repress the uprising.
Meanwhile, a Tunisian judicial official said Libya’s former prime minister has been freed from jail after an appeals court overturned his conviction for illegally entering Tunisia.
Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi was arrested Sept. 22 on charges of illegal entry as he tried to flee across the border to Algeria. He was convicted the same day and sentenced to six months in prison.
Libya’s transitional government said last week it would ask Tunisia to send Mahmoudi home to face justice.