08/25/2011, 00.00
LIBYA

Bounty on Gaddafi, dead or alive

Whoever delivers the Libyan leader is guaranteed amnesty. The NTC has also offered the Colonel safe exit from the country, if he surrenders. The capture or killing of Gaddafi is urgent for release of frozen Libyan government funds: at least 168 billion dollars. The U.S. to ask the UN to release 1.5 million dollars "for humanitarian needs." But South Africa and the African Union cautious. Four Italian journalists kidnapped yesterday in Tripoli. Cautious optimism, but also some fear.
Benghazi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The National Transition Council (NTC) today announced it has put a bounty on Muammar Gaddafi: whoever captures him, dead or alive, will receive a reward of 1.7 million US dollars (two million dinars) and - if they are part of the leader’s entourage - an amnesty for their crimes.

Getting rid of Gaddafi and turning the page in Libyan history is of pressing urgency. Abdel Jalil Mustafa, head of the NTC declared that "the Gaddafi forces and his accomplices will never give up until Gaddafi is taken or killed."

The rebels claim control of almost the entire country. In fact there are some pockets in Tripoli, in Sirte - Gaddafi's home - and in the south where resistance is still strong and a bloodbath or a guerrilla war that could last months is feared.

Therefore, in addition to the bounty, the NTC is also promising the Colonel a safe exit from the country, if he surrenders his leadership. This possibility seems remote for now. Only yesterday, the Libyan leader gave a radio messages asking his followers to "clean Tripoli" and promised that he will stand "until victory or martyrdom."

Killing or capturing Gaddafi is also vital to unblock all Libyan funds. Mahmoud Jibril, head of the interim government, said he needs at least 2 billion dollars to pay employees, cover unspecified "humanitarian costs" and repair oil infrastructure.

According to some diplomats, next week the United States will present a resolution to the UN Security Council to ask them to unlock 1.5 billion dollars of Libyan funds "for humanitarian needs." The United States and other countries have blocked at least 165 billion dollars from the Libyan government.

South Africa, however, is reticent to agree to Washington’s demands and says it will wait for indications from the African Union which still does not recognize the authority of the rebels.

Gaddafi's Libya, the African country with the richest oil resources, has always been well regarded by African leaders for the generosity of its donations and its investment in the continent, often in competition with international organizations led by Westerners.

Before the February-March riots, Libya produced 1.6 million barrels of oil a day. Because of the war, production fell to 100 thousand barrels per day.

Meanwhile, there is cautious optimism about the fate of four Italian journalists who were captured yesterday by a group of criminals and then delivered to pro-Gaddafi troops. These include two Corriere della Sera correspondents, Elizabeth Rosaspina and Joseph Sarcina, Avvenire’s correspondent Claudio Monici and La Stampa’s Domenico Quirico. Quirico and Monici were able to call abroad and confirm that they were well. According to the latest information, they are being held in custody in an unknown location in Tripoli.

The fear is, however, that in these days of confusion and rhetoric in Gaddafi’s struggle against NATO, these Western journalists could be seen as foreign spies.

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