Sunday, 27 June 2010

Age of the Iron Fist Is Over, Says Gadaffi Jr

THE SUNDAY TIMES: Saif al-Islam, the son of Colonel Gadaffi, said the time for 'military regimes, kings, crown princes' had passed

The 38-year-old Saif is widely seen as a potential successor to his father. Photo: The Sunday Times

The son of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, who has ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than 40 years, has declared that the country no longer needs a “great leader”.

In an interview last week, Saif al-Islam Gadaffi said the time for “military regimes, kings, crown princes” had passed.

“The future is for managers — people will elect managers and not have kings or great leaders,” he said. “People should be free to elect their own leaders. The future is for democracy. There is no other way for Libya.”

The 38-year-old champion of reform, who is widely seen as a potential successor to his father, warned that his country could face “very serious trouble” if it failed to adopt a more liberal approach to relations with the West.

Dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and trainers, he strolled into the flower garden of a friend’s villa on the outskirts of Rome and said: “Hi, I’m Saif.”

Sitting beneath a wooden gazebo near a pool surrounded by palm and cedar trees, he outlined his vision of Libya as a tolerant, 21st-century state enriched by tourism.

“I would like to make Libya the Vienna of north Africa,” he said passionately, referring to his favourite European city. Luxury hotels were already being built, he added.

Gadaffi, who studied for his PhD at the London School of Economics, smiled as he claimed that tough visa restrictions for westerners would be abolished soon, starting with the British.

Measures had also been discussed to permit the sale of alcoholic drinks to foreigners in hotels, he said. “It will happen,” he added. “We will create the right environment for tourism in Libya. If you have no drink, no visa, no hotels, nobody will come.” Continue reading and comment >>> Sara Hashash and Hala Jaber | Sunday, June 27, 2010