* Son says Gaddafi would quit if he loses vote
* Libyan PM says Gaddafi would have no reason to step down
* NATO resumes bombing in Tripoli
By Nick Carey
TRIPOLI, June 17 NATO planes resumed
bombardments of Tripoli after Muammar Gaddafi's son said the
Libyan leader was willing to hold elections and step aside if he
lost, an offer rejected by rebels and the United States.
Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam told an Italian newspaper that
the elections could be held within three months and
transparency could be guaranteed through international
He said his father would be ready to cede power if he lost
the election, though he would not go into exile.
But Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi appeared to
throw the potential concession into question, saying on Thursday
that the leader of the revolution was not concerned by "any
A visiting Russian envoy said the Libyan leadership had
reiterated that Gaddafi's departure was a "red line".
The rebel leadership in the eastern stronghold of Benghazi
rejected Gaddafi's son's election offer.
"We tell him (Saif al-Islam) that the time has passed
because our rebels are at the outskirts of Tripoli, and they
will join our people and rebels there to uproot the symbol of
corruption and tyranny in Libya," rebel spokesman Abdel Hafiz
Ghoga told Al Jazeera television.
A U.S. State Department official also dismissed the election
idea, saying it was "a little late for that".
The proposal -- which follows a series of moves the Libyan
leader's officials portray as concessions but Western powers
dismiss as ploys -- comes at a time when frustration is mounting
in some NATO states at slow military progress.
Rebel advances towards Tripoli have been slow, while weeks
of NATO strikes pounding Gaddafi's compound and other targets
have failed to end his 41-year-old rule.
In the latest raids, eight loud explosions were heard in
southeast and southwest Tripoli late on Thursday and planes
could be heard overhead. Libyan state television said NATO had
hit targets in the Al-Ferjan district of the city.
More on Libya [nLDE72H00G]
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Libya graphics link.reuters.com/neg68r
The NATO intervention in Libya has been going on for nearly
13 weeks -- longer than many of its backers anticipated -- and
the strains are beginning to show within the alliance.
NATO officials have said they may not have the resources for
a sustained campaign, and Republicans in the U.S. Congress have
questioned the legal grounds for continued U.S. involvement.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said lawmakers
had options for dealing with the conflict, including "the power
of the purse" -- an implicit threat to cut off funding.
Libya-watchers say Gaddafi is using his political skills,
honed during decades when he was able to survive despite being
an international pariah, to try to exploit divisions.
Adding to the pressure on NATO, Russia and China issued a
declaration underlining their concerns about the air strikes.
Russia and China decided in March not to use their veto
power at the United Nations to block intervention on Libya, but
have said NATO risks going beyond the U.N.-authorised mandate to
Rebel forces are now fighting Gaddafi's troops on three
fronts: in the east of the country around the oil town of Brega,
on the road to Tripoli from the rebel-held port of Misrata, and
in the Western Mountains southwest of Tripoli.
They have made slow but important gains in the past few
weeks in the mountains and near Misrata, bringing the front
closer to Tripoli from the east and southwest.
Gaddafi has called the rebels "rats" and says NATO's
campaign is colonial aggression to steal Libya's oil.
In Misrata, the rebels say they are recruiting fighters from
the government-held neighbouring town of Zlitan before advancing.
Zlitan, just 160 km (100 miles) from Tripoli, is the next
major town on the Mediterranean coast road to the capital.
Capturing it would be a major victory.
Kalefa Ali, a rebel spokesman in the Western Mountains town
of Nalut, told Reuters that despite shelling by Gaddafi forces
in Nalut and the Wazin border crossing with Tunisia on Thursday,
the rebels would push forward.
"We think we will be able to drive Gaddafi's forces out of
the Western Mountains altogether within days," he said.
(Writing by John Irish; editing by Mark Trevelyan)