Courtesy: "Aljazeera English"Profile: 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 Gaddafi, 38, is a fluent English speaker with a PhD from the London School of Economics.
The second of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's seven sons, Saif al-Islam was given the task of defending his father's government in a televised address early on Monday after the worst unrest of the elder Gaddafi's four-decade rule.
In his address, he accused exiles of fomenting violence and promised a dialogue leading toward reforms.
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.
Accused of money laundering by The Daily Telegraph in two articles published in 1995 (one of which focused on the alleged operation flooding "the Iranian economy with fake Iranian currency", Saif al-Islam sued the UK newspaper for libel, prompting the Telegraph to issue an apology in 2002 for the "falsity of the allegations" levelled against him.
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.
In 2008, the AP reported that Saif al-Islam announced that he was leaving politics, and that he'd given, "no explanation for his decision", only dismissing reports of a rift between himself and his father.
He made his announcement via a televised statement, in which also called for political reforms, he said, "I have decided not to intervene in state affairs," he said in the speech, broadcast on state television. "In the past, I used to intervene (in politics) due to the absence of institutions."
He said he would not succeed his father as the country's leader, adding that the reigns of power were "not a farm to inherit".
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.....................
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