Muammar Qaddafi was in bed, away from the fighting during Libya’s 1969 revolution, said former Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Salam Jalloud in a Tuesday interview that revealed a number of unknown details on how the late leader swept to power.
“Colonel Qaddafi was in his bed, away from the areas of conflict,t when the 1969 revolution took place,” Jalloud told Al Arabiya’s Political Memory program.
Jalloud explained that on the eve of the coup that would allow him to hold the country for over four decades, until a civil war deposed him last year, Qaddafi pretended to be plotting with other officers. But, the Colonel in fact went home and slept, Jalloud said.
“That is why the first revolutionary declaration was delayed. We had to wait for him to show up in the square,” Jalloud said.
Jalloud added that the revolutionaries were planning to make it a Libyan people’s revolution, but Qaddafi insisted on militarizing the action.
“In the beginning, we wanted a purely civilian revolution that started from university campuses, but Qaddafi insisted that it become a military coup,” he said.
They first met each other in prison, he said.
“We were both arrested for taking part in protests. After we got out of jail he told me that he wants to form a revolutionary group to overthrow the monarchy and gave me seven books about revolutions to read.”
Afterwards, Jalloud said, they visited with their co-revolutionaries in camps filled with impoverished people, and vowed to work with them.
“However, this was not the case after the success of the revolution. Qaddafi starved and terrorized his people and made sure to leave them ignorant.”
Jalloud added he first refused when Qaddafi asked him to join the army as they planned the revolution.
“I had to accept later after he insisted. I actually failed in the army’s test but Qaddafi talked the committee members into giving me a chance and they agreed,” he said.
The revolution, Jalloud noted, was postponed four times owing to the difficulty of carrying it out in some areas of the country. They also decided against staging the coup during a concert by Egyptian singer Om Kolthoum for “ethical reasons,” he said.
When Libya’s monarchy got wind of preparations for the revolution, he said, the revolutionaries immediately took all the ammunition and fuel out of their camps just before the army was sent to prevent them for going ahead with their plan.
“At the same time, the Omar al-Mokhtar Brigade, which belonged to the state army, was given time off to ensure it would not be part of the revolution.”
According to Jalloud, the revolutionaries expected Benghazi to be the most difficult city to surrender to the revolutionaries, but they were wrong about that.
“It was actually Tripoli that resisted the revolution,” he said.