(Reuters) - Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of strongman leader Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, was given the task of defending his father’s government in a televised address late Sunday after the worst unrest of the elder Gaddafi’s four-decade rule.
He accused exiles of fomenting violence and promised a dialogue leading toward reforms.
Here are facts about Saif al-Islam Gaddafi:
- Described last year by the New York Times as “the Western-friendly face of Libya and symbol of its hopes for reform and openness,” Saif al-Islam, 38, is a fluent English speaker with a PhD from the London School of Economics. He is widely seen as belonging to a camp that aims to open Libya’s economy.
- Saif al-Islam helped lead talks with Western governments that in the past 10 years saw Libya renounce nuclear weapons and end decades of isolation as a foe of the West, paving the way for large-scale investment in its oil sector.
- Saif al-Islam has clashed publicly with the ruling elite over proposals for reforms. Some analysts believe his conservative opponents have the backing of his brothers Mutassim, a national security adviser, and Khamis, a senior military leader. In December, he took the unusual step of denying a family feud with his brothers.
- His turf war with conservatives has escalated in the past few months, with many Libya-watchers seeing signs of his influence being held in check. Twenty journalists working for al Ghad, a media group which had been linked to him, were briefly arrested. The head of the group stepped down and its flagship newspaper stopped printing.
- Much of his influence was wielded through his position as the head of a charity. Late last year the charity said it was withdrawing from politics and his post of chairman was being made into an honorary role.
Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Jon Boyle