Muammar Gaddafi is losing friends in Africa, the continent where his largesse once bought him the title “King of Kings” but which is now turning to other foreign allies to help shape its future.
Moves by countries including Senegal, Mauritania, Liberia, Chad and Gambia to distance themselves from Gaddafi are partly a gamble that NATO-backed rebels will finally succeed in ending his four decades of authoritarian and quixotic rule.
But they also show Gaddafi’s waning role in a region where foreign investor appetite, trade ties with Asia and a domestic yearning for democracy are all eclipsing the lure of Libyan petrodollars and weakening the old-boy networks they propped up.
“The rest of the continent has passed him by. The favors he can call in are few and far between,” said Tara O’Connor of London-based Africa Risk Consulting.
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is willing to hold elections and step aside if he lost, his son said, an offer quickly dismissed Thursday by rebels and the United States.
Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “They (elections) could be held within three months. At the maximum by the end of the year, and the guarantee of transparency could be the presence of international observers.”
He said his father would be ready to step aside if he lost the election, though he would not go into exile.
Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi later appeared to put the potential concession in question, telling reporters: “I would like to correct (that) and say that the leader of the revolution is not concerned by any referendum.”
He added that there was no reason for the Libyan leader to step down in any case, because he had not held any formal political or administrative post since 1977.