Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged Muammar Qaddafi to resist a rebel siege in Libya, saying that his ally has no plans to leave the embattled North African nation.
“Nobody knows where Qaddafi is,” Chavez said today in a phone interview broadcast on state television. “I’m sure that he’s very far from thinking about leaving Libya. He’ll resist with what power he has left.”
A core group of soldiers and officials loyal to Qaddafi are holed up in the town of Bani Walid, said the rebel fighters besieging the town today. Negotiations have reached an impasse between the rebels and tribesmen for the peaceful handover of Sabha, Jaffra and Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown. The rebel council says it’s focusing on those towns because Qaddafi may be hiding in one of them.
Chavez, who last month pledged support to Qaddafi and called the armed conflict in Libya the result of “imperial insanity,” said he doesn’t have information on the leader’s whereabouts. He said that by resisting, Qaddafi can lay the groundwork for a lasting peace in Libya.
When asked if he would offer Qaddafi asylum, Chavez recalled a conversation he had with Cuba’s Fidel Castro about the capture of Saddam Hussein after Iraq was invaded. Chavez said Fidel told him that in such situations “what we have to do is win or die.”
Chavez, who has compared Qaddafi to Simon Bolivar and gave him a replica of the Latin American liberator’s sword when he visited Venezuela in 2009, read out a letter sent to him by Qaddafi on Aug. 1 in which he asked the Venezuelan leader for moral support in his fight against rebels and the Western alliance. Chavez’s offer in March to mediate in the Libyan crisis was rejected by the Libyan rebels.
“We are advocating that the life of the Libyan people and Qaddafi be respected and that this madness is stopped,” Chavez said today.