TRIPOLI, Libya â€” Rebel leaders Sunday dismissed a purported offer by Moammar Gadhafi to negotiate a transition in government, insisting that Libyaâ€™s longtime ruler should turn himself in.
The Associated Press reported late Saturday that Moussa Ibrahim, a spokesman for Gadhafiâ€™s all-but-toppled government, had called its New York headquarters to offer talks on a â€œtransfer of power,â€ saying the leaderâ€™s son, al-Saadi, would conduct the negotiations. He said Gadhafi remained in Libya but did not specify where.
A top official of the National Transitional Council rejected the offer. â€œWe have no negotiations with
Gadhafi, and we can offer him only two things: safety and a fair trial,â€ said Ahmad Darrat, said to be incoming interior minister of the provisional government now taking the reins of power in Libya.
â€œThereâ€™s no negotiations,â€ Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the provisional government in Tripoli, told reporters. â€œThere were no negotiations before. There are criminals running for justice. Weâ€™re not talking to him. Weâ€™re going to arrest him.â€
Gadhafi was driven from his longtime base of power last week in a lightning offensive by lightly armed rebels storming the Libyan capital from several directions. Tripoli now suffers power, water and food shortages, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned of an impending humanitarian crisis in the capital and the rebel-controlled Nafusa Mountains region.
Rebels entering the capital have found the bodies of dozens of apparently recent victims of violence at hospitals and military bases. Dozens of injured Libyans have entered Tunisia in recent days to seek treatment, according to Tunisian radio.
Rebels appear to have squelched the last pockets of armed Gadhafi loyalists in the capital and are considering an offensive against the city of Surt, a remaining Gadhafi stronghold, after negotiations to persuade the cityâ€™s surrender appear to have gone nowhere.
â€œAs far as I know, the negotiations still are going,â€ Shammam told reporters. â€œTime is pressuring us. Weâ€™d like to unify Libya very soon.â€
â€œWeâ€™re not going to wait endlessly,â€ he added.
The provisional government, still based in eastern Libya but moving to Tripoli, is struggling to take control of the country after the capture of the capital by rebel fighters from the countryâ€™s west
Shammam said the transitional councilâ€™s two top leaders, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and Mahmoud Jebril, were meeting in Qatar to discuss their possible arrival in the capital.