Defector says Qaddafi not courageous enough to commit suicide

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Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya does not have the courage to commit suicide but could ask one of his aides to shoot him to avoid being caught by the rebels who have taken control of the capital, ex-prime minister and number two in command Abdessalam Jalloud told Al Arabiya.

Mr. Jalloud, who has defected to Italy, said the collapse of Colonel Qaddafi’s defenses had been expected for months because his major combat forces – sent to root out the opposition in the eastern rebel stronghold eastern city of Benghazi – were destroyed by NATO jets in June.

Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Al Arabiya the opposition National Transitional Council has been in touch with the commander of the special force tasked by Mr. Qaddafi to protect Tripoli. Mr. Abdel Jalil said the commander of the force was secretly loyal to the rebel forces.

After rebels took control of much of Tripoli on Monday, there were several reports suggesting that Mr. Qaddafi was still in the capital. A reporter told Al Arabiya the embattled leader was staying in a cardiac hospital in the Tripoli district of Tajura. But diplomatic sources told AFP he was hiding in his fortified Bab Al-Azizya residence.

Rebel officials said on Sunday night that two South African passenger planes were seen at the Tripoli International Airport. The claims raised speculations about a last-minute deal between Colonel Qaddafi, rebels and NATO powers. The alliance is currently enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, meaning no plane could fly in Libyan air space without NATO permission.

However, South Africa has denied the rebel claims, saying it was not facilitating Colonel Qaddafi’s exit from Libya. In addition, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Monday that Mr. Qaddafi would not be seeking asylum in South Africa.