Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Gaddafi's Widow Allowed Back to Libya as Part of 'Reconciliation' Drive
Colin Freeman, chief foreign correspondent
Telegraph, UK
9 MAY 2016 • 10:44AM

Libyan officials have allowed Colonel Gaddafi's widow to return from exile abroad as part of a new program of national reconciliation.

Safia Farkash Gaddafi, who defended her husband publicly until his death, was given permission to return to her home of Baida in eastern Libya two weeks ago.

The Libyan authorities are keen to pacify the country's pro-Gaddafi tribes ahead of a planned major battle to retake the Islamic State-held city of Sirte, Colonel Gaddafi's home town.

Sirte fell under Isil control last year after embittered ex-Gaddafi loyalists formed an alliance of convenience with foreign jihadists.

Safia, 63, who married the Libyan revolutionary leader in 1970 and bore him six children, fled to neighbouring Algeria in August 2011 as Tripoli fell to anti-Gaddafi rebels.

Together with her daughter Aisha and a number of other senior government figures, they were given sanctuary first in Algiers and then moved to the Gulf state of Oman.

The decision to allow Safia back along with a number of her grandchildren was rubber-stamped by council officials in Baida around a fortnight ago, according to a number of reports in Libyan media.

The Libyan authorities are understood to view it as part of an effort to build national reconciliation following the formation of a new national unity government last month.

The move to allow Gaddafi's widow back into Libya is not without controversy.

Even though she has never been charged with any regime crimes, many Libyans still bear strong grudges against all members of the ruling family.

Safia, who is said to have met her future husband while nursing him in hospital, had a low political profile as First Lady for most of his time in power.

But she appeared with him during meetings with world leaders - including Nelson Mandela (see photo above) - and took to the airwaves to support of her husband during his defense of the Jamahiriya Revolution against the Pentagon-NATO funded and coordinated counter-revolution in 2011.

In an interview by phone with CNN at the height of the imperialist bombing of the country in May 2011, she hit out at Nato for organising airstrikes targeting her family.

"My children are civilians, and they have been targeted. What do they have to do with this?" she said.

She accused Nato of "defaming" her husband's regime and vowed that "we will live or die alongside the Libyan people".

In the end, she and her pregnant daughter Aisha left Libya as Tripoli fell, while her husband was hunted down and killed in Sirte three months later.

The family were initially granted refuge by Algeria, but then told to leave after Aisha allegedly ignored requests by the Algerian authorities not to give interviews criticising the neocolonial regime installed by the imperialists.

Aisha is believed to be still in Oman.

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