Last Updated: Sat Feb 26, 2011 23:15 pm (KSA) 20:15 pm (GMT)

Protesters being exploited: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in an interview with Al Arabiya TV in Tripoli  
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in an interview with Al Arabiya TV in Tripoli

Libyans protesting against the rule of Muammar Gaddafi are being exploited and manipulated and the situation has “opened the door to a civil war” and foreign interference, his son Saif al-Islam said Saturday in an interview with Al Arabiya television.

"What the Libyan nation is going through has opened the door to all options, and now the signs of civil war and foreign interference have started," he said.

 Show us the mercenaries, show us the women and children who were killed. These reports about mercenaries are lies 
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

"Our Arab brothers pay monthly salaries to journalists and tell them to write and incite against Libya, write against Gaddafi," he Al Arabiya.

The popular uprising which began on February 15 in the port city of Benghazi has taken control of much of eastern Libya, but Seif al-Islam said people in "three-quarters of the country are living in peace."

He denied that African mercenaries had been recruited to attack the protesters in a crackdown that the United Nations say has killed at least 1,000 people.

"Show us the mercenaries, show us the women and children who were killed," he said. "These reports about mercenaries are lies."

The protests were being led by "small groups, armed groups."

"Those provoking these people are terrorists," he added, echoing his father who in a televised address last week blamed al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for manipulating the country's youth with drugs.

He said interior minister Abdel Fatah Yunes who resigned on Tuesday and called on the armed forces to back the rebellion had been "abducted and forced to speak... so what do you expect?"

Numerous high-level Libyan officials, including ministers, diplomats and military officers, have abandoned the regime and announced their support for the rebellion.

The protest movements "have no future," he said in the interview.

In separate comments to AFP, referring to the opposition based abroad, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi said: "The situation is on its way to being calm. It is not in our interests to burn our country and to fight one another, and those who are fighting are those who are in Europe, America and the Gulf."

He also denied there had been massacres and that Libya's air force had bombed protesters. "Eighty percent of those who died, died trying to storm military areas," he said.

On talks at the UN Security Council on Saturday over how to sanction Gaddafi for his deadly offensive, his son said he wanted a "fact-finding" mission to come to Libya before any sanctions are imposed.

"I am ready for any sanctions to be imposed on us after a fact-finding mission from abroad comes to see what has happened and, if the they confirm the reports of the ill-intentioned media, then I will be the first person to back sanctions on Libya."

He said an asset freeze imposed on Gaddafiand his family would hurt only the people of Libya.

"There isn't a dollar in my name or in the name of Muammar Gaddafi." Assets held abroad "is money that belongs to sovereign Libya and it will remain abroad. It belongs to the Libyan people. It does not belong to me or to Muammar Gaddafi."

Interim govt

Separately, Libya's ex-justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Ajleil has led the formation of an interim government based in the eastern city of Benghazi, the online edition of the Quryna newspaper reported on Saturday.

Quryna quoted him as saying that Muammar Gaddafi "alone" bore responsibility "for the crimes that have occurred" in Libya and that his tribe, Gaddadfa, were forgiven.

"Abud Ajleil insisted on the unity of the homeland's territory, and that Libya is free and its capital is Tripoli," Quryna quoted him as saying in a telephone conversation.

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