LIBYA: Moammar Kadafi a 'paranoid' leader in fear for his life, reports say
Moammar Kadafi is a hunted, “paranoid” leader who spends each night in a different hospital to elude Western air attacks and presides over a fractured command structure that has difficulty communicating with field units, according to British news reports Friday citing diplomatic and intelligence sources.
"There is a picture building up of this man who is very paranoid and a regime that's increasingly feeling under pressure and beginning to fracture," said the Guardian.
Kadafi’s commanders have stopped using telephones to avoid being overheard, part of a general communications breakdown that is hampering the regime’s ability to fight, British intelligence has informed Prime Minister David Cameron, according to the news accounts.
The reports come as North Atlantic Treaty Organization jets continued to pound Tripoli overnight, with at least five explosions being heard.
There was no immediate word on casualties. The strikes appeared once again to target a wooded, walled-in complex where NATO says regime vehicles are stored. Libyan officials call the site — which is adjacent to Kadafi’s sprawling fortified Bab Azizia compound near downtown — a reserve guard barracks that is currently unused.
The assault on Tripoli continues even as British and French attack helicopters are said to be moving into the Libyan theater, a significant escalation of the conflict that pits rebels backed by Western air power against Kadafi’s government. The rebels control much of eastern Libya, while Kadafi holds on to power in the west.
A government spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, said any NATO escalation would be met with stiff resistance from a heavily armed population.
"We will turn it [Libya] into a living hell," Ibrahim warned in comments to reporters here late Friday. "Everyone is armed."
Meanwhile, Kadafi’s government made its latest and most extensive plea to date Thursday for a cease fire.
Speaking in Tripoli, Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Ali Mahmoudi reiterated his government’s desire for a cease fire monitored by international peacekeepers. The government, Mahmoudi said, would be willing to talk with rebel representatives as part of a subsequent program of national reconciliation. The projected talks could result in a new constitution and more democratic form of government, officials here vowed.
"It is not possible for a political dialogue to take place under the dropping of bombs," Mahmoudi said, according to a BBC translation of his comments during an almost two-hour news conference here.
Neither the rebels or their Western allies have accepted previous ceasefire offers, insisting that the regime must first stop targeting civilians and that Kadafi must leave after more than four decades in power. Mahmoudi rejected any demand that Kadafi step down.
Libyan officials are pushing the idea that Kadafi could remain in place as a “figurehead” and oversee a democratic transition that would evolve from a reconciliation process. Mahmoudi dismissed as "lies and rumors" reports that Kadafi was ailing.
"The leader is in good health, he is conducting all his duties and he is very fit," Mahmoudi said. “Leader Moammar Kadafi is in the heart of every Libyan. If Moammar Kadafi leaves, all Libyan people will leave."
Photo: A man moves a poster of Moammar Kadafi from a building in Tripoli that was bombed and burned this week. Credit: Darko Bandic/Associated Press