CAIRO (Reuters) - One of Muammar Gaddafi's sons, Saadi, said Libya would descend into civil war if his father stepped down, a move rebels who control swathes of the country have demanded, Al Arabiya television reported Monday.
Saadi Gaddafi, speaking in an interview with the Arabic satellite channel, blamed one of his brothers, Saif al-Islam who had sought reforms before the unrest, for failing to address the problems of ordinary Libyans.
"The tribes are all armed, there are forces from the Libyan army and the eastern region is armed. The situation is not like Tunisia or Egypt," said Saadi, who was briefly a professional footballer in Italy before turning to business.
Protests in Tunisia and Egypt have toppled the presidents of both countries since the start of the year.
"The situation is very dangerous. From the perspective of a civil war, the leader must play a very, very big role in calming Libya and convincing people to sit together," he said.
"If something happened to the leader, who would be in control? A civil war would start," he added.
The news channel also said he had warned that Libya would turn into a new Somalia and that the country's tribes would fight against each other.
On his brother, Saadi said:
"The leader told them (Saif al-Islam and the ministers) on a daily basis that you are facilitating matters and the budget, but there are things they did not do," he said, such as failing to address issues like prices of basic commodities that concerned Libyans.
The reforming efforts of Saif al-Islam were stymied by opposition from inside the ruling elite and, some analysts had said, family members. Educated at a British university, Saif al-Islam has acted a spokesman for his father during the unrest.
Saadi had a brief career in Italy's Serie A soccer league between 2003 and 2007, though he had little time on the field.
Saadi, who qualified as an engineer and also holds military rank, later turned to business. He told Reuters in an interview last year he was behind a project to set up a free trade zone on the Mediterranean coast west of Tripoli.
When violence engulfed Libya's eastern city of Benghazi in mid-February, Saadi spoke on local radio to say he had been appointed commandant of the city. Soon after, residents took control of Benghazi and forced out Gaddafi's forces.
(Writing by Edmund Blair)