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Gaddafi's former PM joins rebels as fighting nears Tripoli

Abdessalam Jalloud, Muammar Gaddafi’s former ‘right hand man’ and once a trusted ally, joins the rebel side.

Then-prime minister Abdessalam Jalloud, pictured far right, watches Muammar Gaddafi (left) give a speech in 1977. Jalloud has now joined the side of the Libyan rebels trying to oust Gaddafi.
Then-prime minister Abdessalam Jalloud, pictured far right, watches Muammar Gaddafi (left) give a speech in 1977. Jalloud has now joined the side of the Libyan rebels trying to oust Gaddafi.
Image: AP

THE FORMER PRIME Minister of Libya – and a former trusted second-in-command of Muammar Gaddafi – has defected and has reportedly pledged his assistance to the country’s rebels.

Al Jazeera reports that Abdessalam Jalloud – who was a key member of the junta that brought Gaddafi to power in 1969, and who served as Prime Minister from 1972 to 1977 – has fled Tripoli for a rebel-held area in the west of the country.

“Commander Jalloud has managed to flee Tripoli and arrived Friday in the town of Zintan,” a senior rebel told the agency, referring to a town in the north-west corner of Libya, around 100 miles west of Tripoli.

“He is definitely here in Zintan. He is under the control of the military council here,” a rebel spokesman formally told Reuters.

Press TV reports that Jalloud’s relationship with Gaddafi had been strained for some time, and that he had been forced to live under heavy government surveillance since a dispute which led to his passport being revoked.

Despite this, however, Al Jazeera said media speculation had linked Jalloud with a return to the prime minister’s job as recently as last year.

It said that the local media – including outlets controlled by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar’s son - had identified Jalloud as a potential leader to rid the country of corruption.

The defection comes as the rebel forces captured the key town of Zlitan, which had served as a battleground between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces for months, and advanced towards the capital.

The rebels believe they will have taken the capital by the end of this month, and have urged its citizens to assist in their ‘revolution’.

Read: Libyan rebels make significant advances >

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Gavan Reilly

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