Last Updated: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:15 am (KSA) 07:15 am (GMT)

Libyan royal offers to help homeland as NTC seizes Qaddafi desert outposts

Prince Mohammed el Hasan el Rida el Senussi offerred his family as a ‘servant of the Libyan people.’ (File photo)
Prince Mohammed el Hasan el Rida el Senussi offerred his family as a ‘servant of the Libyan people.’ (File photo)

A Libyan royal spoke out about the prospect of Libya returning to monarchy rule in the wake of the latest developments in the country, as Libya’s interim rulers claim they have gained control of two of Muammar Qaddafi’s last bastions of support.

The great-nephew of the Libyan king ousted by Muammar Qaddafi said his countrymen should be allowed to decide if they want the return of the monarchy, offering his family as a “servant of the Libyan people,” he told the Associated Press in an interview.

Prince Mohammed el Hasan el Rida el Senussi was seven years old when Qaddafi ousted then-King Idris in a 1969 coup. The prince said he wants the Libyan people to choose what form of democratic government they want – with having a royal head of state as an option.

“We have to give a chance to this 6 million people to choose what they want,” he said, though he declined to say whether there should be a referendum. “I’ll respect any other choice and we have to respect what Libyan people choose, the monarchy or republic.”

What matters, he said, is “to make sure we have democracy, we have freedom of choice.”

Commenting on the prince’s remarks, el- Jalal el-Gallal, a spokesman for Libya’s National Transitional Council said: “It is up to the Libyan people to choose the governing system and there will be a referendum in which they can decide the political structure and the constitution.”

But, “there are many ways to serve the people without being their king,” Gallal said.

NTC finds chemical weapons at Qaddafi strongholds

Earlier on Wednesday, the National Transitional Council’s (NTC) military spokesman had said they seized Qaddafi strongholds Jufra about 700 km (435 miles) southeast of Tripoli, and most of Sabha, while finding chemical weapons in the process.

“The whole of the Jufra area − we have been told it has been liberated,” spokesman Fathi Bashaagha told reporters in the city of Misrata on Wednesday, Reuters reported. “There was a depot of chemical weapons and now it is under the control of our fighters.”

Bashaagha’s comments could not be independently verified, Reuters reported.

Under Qaddafi’s rule, Libya was supposed to have destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons in early 2004 as part of a rapprochement with the West under which it also abandoned a nuclear program.

However, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says Libya kept 9.5 tons of mustard gas at a secret desert location, according to Reuters.

In Jufra, Sabha, Sirte and the larger strongholds of Bani Walid, Qaddafi loyalists have been holding out since the fall of the capital last month.

“We control most of Sabha apart from the al-Manshiya district. This is still resisting, but it will fall,” another NTC military spokesman, Ahmed Bani, told Reuters.

At Bani Walid, troops from other areas have been arguing with local fighters, and there has been talk of traitors infiltrating the ranks and sabotaging the assault.

NTC officials said that pro-Qaddafi soldiers killed seven NTC fighters in Bani Walid and at least 16 civilians there in the last two days after suspecting they supported the NTC.

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