Leader says rebels not seeking office post-Gaddafi

Reuters News
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Posted: May 28, 2011 1:34 PM
Leader says rebels not seeking office post-Gaddafi

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Members of the Libyan rebel administration will not seek office if Muammar Gaddafi is removed from power, the head of the rebels' Benghazi-based council said on Saturday.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who is trying to present his interim National Transitional Council (NTC) as a credible temporary alterative to Gaddafi, told a news conference marking 100 days since the February 17 uprising began that he hoped elections would be held within a year.

"I emphasize the council's decision that prohibits any of its members from running for any post in the period following Gaddafi's fall," he said, adding: "Gaddafi has no place in Libya in the future.

"I assure everyone that we are not seeking power, and that the members of the council will work on holding elections after drafting the constitution, which we expect will take place in one year at most."

The rebels had hoped for the quick overthrow of Gaddafi but the Libyan leader's better-armed forces have blocked a push west to Tripoli by their poorly trained and ill-equipped fighters. The conflict is bogged down in stalemate.

Jalil said the rebels badly needed weapons and military aid.

"We are in dire need of weaponry to face Gaddafi's weaponry and machines and to at least strike some balance on the ground. But the fact is that we haven't received any."

France, Britain and other European countries have backed Libya's rebels against a government that has been in power for more than four decades.

Jalil welcomed Russia's call on Friday for Gaddafi to step down and Moscow's offer to mediate his departure, in an important boost for NATO powers seeking to end the Libyan leader's 41-year rule.

"I welcome Russia's advanced position and stress on its role in developing and expanding (bilateral) relationships," he said, adding that he expected a Russian delegation to meet the council next week.

Russia's mediation offer was announced on the sidelines of a Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France, where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed Libya with U.S. President Barack Obama.

(Reporting by Sherine El Madany; editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Dobbie)