Muammar Gaddafi called on Libyans to take to the streets and wage a campaign of civil disobedience against the country’s new leaders on Thursday, the first word from the fugitive leader in just over two weeks.
Gadaffi said the National Transitional Council, which has assumed leadership of the country since then-rebel forces swept into Tripoli in late August, has no legitimacy because it was not nominated or appointed by the Libyan people.
Gaddafi made the statement in an poor quality audio recording and it was not possible to verify his identity, but it was broadcast on Syrian-based Al-Rai TV, which has become the mouthpiece of his resistance.
Revolutionary forces, aided by NATO airstrikes, have gained control over most of the North African nation and forced the leader and two of his sons into hiding.
Gaddafi has made several speeches on Al-Rai as he tries to rally supporters, who are still waging fierce resistance in his besieged hometown of Sirte, the town of Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli and pockets in the south.
He was last heard on 20 September calling the revolution a “charade.”
The broadcast comes as NATO mapped out conditions to end the Libya air war.
NATO has vowed to keep bombing until Gadaffi’s forces stop attacking civilians and the new leadership can ensure security across the country.
With Gaddafi diehards surrounded by the new leadership’s forces in Sirte and Bani Walid, and the fallen Libyan leader in hiding, NATO defence ministers set out criteria for terminating the six-month-old mission.
“It’s clear that the end is in sight. Gaddafi forces are fighting for a lost cause,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference on Thursday after two days of talk between NATO defence ministers in Brussels.
“We are determined to pursue our operation as long as threats persist, but to end it as soon as conditions permit,” he said.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said after a working lunch with counterparts that there was a “pretty clear consensus” among alliance ministers on four conditions that need to be met to terminate the mission.
The first condition, he said, is “what happens” in the battle for Gaddafi’s birthplace, Sirte, one of the last two bastions of the former regime along with the southern desert town of Bani Walid.
The three other conditions included whether Gaddafi forces maintained the capability to attack civilians, whether Gaddafi himself could command fighters and whether the new leadership could secure the country.
He says they’re determined to pursue their operation as long as threats persist, but to end it as soon as conditions permit.