TRIPOLI, Sunday - Veteran Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi son and heir apparent Seif al-Islam has announced his withdrawal from politics in what analysts say is a sign of his frustration with the slow pace of the reforms he has championed.
“I have decided no longer to intervene in state affairs,” the 36-year-old told thousands of young supporters in the town of Sebha, some 800 kilometres south of the capital Tripoli.
Seif al-Islam said that he had been “obliged to intervene” in politics in the past despite his lack of any official position because of the lack of political institutions and a civil service, however, he said he now saw no need to carry on.
He cited the settlement of the claims of the families of the 270 dead in the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland and the release last year of six Bulgarian medics held for more than eight years on widely criticized charges of infecting children with the Aids virus.
“I have achieved my programme,” he said. “The train is currently on the rails.”
In a series of speeches in August last year in the run-up to the regime’s 38th anniversary, Seif al-Islam set out a series of proposed changes to the state-led system of people’s committees that has held sway since the 1970s.
They included a major privatisation campaign, an 80 billion euro ($119 billion) investment programme, and a new constitution that would protect independent media as a bulwark against corruption. Mahmoud Boussifi, the editor of the independent Oya and Qurina newspapers, set up at Seif al-Islam’s initiative, said he felt the announcement by Gaddafi’s son was a sign of his “frustration with the Libyan bureaucracy which has slowed down the pace of his reforms.”
“He is young and was hoping rapidly to make major progress but he ran into bureaucratic obstacles that he had not expected,” Mr Boussifi said.
Another Libyan analyst said that he felt Seif al-Islam’s announcement would have no long-term impact on the succession to the veteran Gaddafi, who has been holding the reins of power since 1969.
Seif al-Islam insisted that the reforms he had championed had never been in conflict with the “people power” ideology his father had set out in his “Green Book” and which led to the country being renamed as the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah.
He said his proposals for a new de facto constitution would protect Gaddafi political thinking and reiterated that any questioning of his father’s role remained a “red line.”
He said the proposed “social contract” would contain a “special Muammar Gaddafi law” stipulating that the powers and prerogatives of the “guide,” as Gaddafi is styled, “could neither be passed on nor inherited.” He hit out at the “sea of dictatorships” across the Middle East and North Africa in which “parliaments are mere shams” and leaders routinely trample on constitutions. (AFP)