6 Apr 2011

'Gaddafi is not a problem'

Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kaim tells Jonathan Rugman the continued presence of Colonel Gaddafi should not pose a problem as far as reconciling the east and west of the country is concerned.

Channel 4 News Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Rugman managed to speak to Khalid Kaim, Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister (see above), who told him Colonel Gaddafi was “not a problem” for people in eastern Libya because has no executive powers.

Here is a transcript of their conversation.

JR: Is the issue of leadership non-negotiable to you? Are there any circumstances in which that may be included in discussions?

KK: What do you mean by the leadership?

JR: The current leadership. Could you envisage any situation in which that may be included?

KK: We accepted the… We started the reform before the crisis started. And then, when the crisis started, we agreed openly on the roadmap decided by the African Union. Then the issue is very clear.

JR: So it’s non-negotiable?

KK: No, no. The leadership is different. The leader is a symbol of the country, of the unity of the country.

But we are accepting to have… election… Transitional period and then the election, the government elected by people directly and all the legislative body elected by people, and so on.

JR: But why should people stay with Colonel Gaddafi after 41 years? You say history will not forgive those who seek help from abroad.

KK: Yes.

JR: But who in the east of Libya would forgive themselves for doing a deal with Colonel Gaddafi?

KK: No, no. They are not dealing with the Colonel Gaddafi. They are dealing with their brothers in the western part of the country.

JR: But accept my point: why should they keep Gaddafi as a figurehead? Why does he have to stay? 41 years is a long time!

KK: No, no, because he is not the president, he has no executive powers, so then he is not a problem.

JR: But he is a problem for people in the east – otherwise they would not have risen up.

KK: Let’s have a referendum in the east!

Reporter: Could you see a transitional leader to help us through this period?

KK: Yeah, yeah. We agreed on this…

Reporter: Someone different from the current leader?

KK: No, no. It’s different from the leadership. The leadership, it’s symbolic for the unity of the country. But we are accepting to have the executive body of the country, the executive body who will run the country, to be elected by people directly.

JR: You’ve never been tempted to defect? Your boss, Moussa Koussa, did that last week.

KK: He was not my boss. He was my…

JR: He was your foreign minister!

KK: He was the foreign minister. But, I mean, I was chosen by the cabinet as well as him.