Fugitive Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is ready to begin talks to transfer power, US media has been told.
Moussa Ibrahim, Muammar Gaddafi’s spokesman, has reportedly told the Associated Press (AP) news agency that the toppled Libyan leader was ready to negotiate with the rebels to form a transitional government.
Ibrahim reportedly called AP headquarters in New York late on Saturday, and told them he was calling from Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and that Gaddafi was still in Libya.
Ibrahim said Gaddafi had appointed one of his sons, al-Saadi, to head the negotiations with the rebel forces, according to AP who said it identified Ibrahim from his voice.
Ibrahim has been the most public face of the Gaddafi government in recent weeks, regularly addressing television cameras and journalists in Tripoli.
The phone call appears to represent a change of policy by Gaddafi who last week referred to the rebels as “thugs” and “rats” and urged loyalists to continue fighting even as his opponents seized control of Tripoli.
Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown and rebels have offered a reward for his capture or killing.
Last week, CNN reported it had been in e-mail contact with Saadi Gaddafi who confirmed his desire to negotiate a ceasefire.
“I will try to save my city Tripoli and 2 millions of people living there . . . otherwise Tripoli will be lost forever like Somalia,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, more than 50 charred bodies have been found in a burnt-out warehouse south of Tripoli.
Residents of the district of Salah al-Din said they were civilians who had been executed on Tuesday by members of a brigade commanded by Col Gaddafi’s son, Khamis, before they abandoned a nearby military base.
Human Rights Watch says it has evidence that pro-Gaddafi forces killed at least 17 prisoners and carried out “suspected arbitrary executions of dozens of civilians, including professionals”, in the days before Tripoli fell to the rebels.
On Friday, more than 200 decomposing bodies were found at an abandoned hospital in the capital’s Abu Salim district. Doctors and nurses fled because of the fighting and many injured patients were left to die.
The rebels’ information minister, Mahmoud Shammam, said they were continuing to hunt for Gaddafi but it would not stop them from efforts to get the country back on its feet. —AP