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Qaddafi Casts Shadow in Tripoli Despite Ouster

Muammar Qaddafi has managed to keep Libya's interim rebel council from forming a government despite his ouster from power.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/27/2011, 1:09 AM

Fugitive strongman Muammar Qaddafi's absence from Tripoli hasn't stopped him from interfering with the formation of a new Libyan government.

As leaders from Libya's interim rebel government push to form a cabinet to rule the conflict-torn nation, some, including the nation's de facto prime minister, say it is too soon. And Qaddafi is one of their main reasons.

Mahmoud Jibril, Libya's de facto interim prime minister and chairman of the interim rebel council told the Saudi newspaper Al Hayat no government should be formed until "the soil of Libya is fully liberated, Qaddafi is arrested, and a constitution can be drawn up."

“Many have forgotten or deliberately ignore the fact that the land is not yet liberated and that the battle is not over. They began their political struggle too early," he added.

The interim rebel government decided to extend its tenure until the remaining pockets of armed-resistance by Qaddafi loyalists are quashed and the whole country is under the council’s control, according to Al Arabiya.

“They set the wrong expectations, they over-promised and under-delivered,” Shashank Joshi, a Libya expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told Bloomberg.

“They should have been lowering expectations, and telling people how difficult it would be. At least the negotiations are taking place in a peaceful framework so far," he added.

Loyalist hold-outs have bloodied NATO-backed rebel forces in Bani Walid and Qaddafi's home town of Sirte in a month of pitched battles with little sign of surrendering in the near future. They also hold the fortress town of Sabha, and several villages, in Libya's south.

According to rebel commanders the staunch resistance at Sirte is due to the presence of Qaddafi son Mutassim in the town. Another Qaddafi son, Saif-al-Islam, is inside Bani Walid, according to reports on Television Misrata yesterday that cited intercepted radio traffic.

Qaddafi, who continues to taunt Libya's new leaders via the radio, remains elusive prey whose whereabouts remain a matter of rumor and speculation.