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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 16:41 GMT
Meeting Gaddafi's son and heir
Seif al-Islam
Gaddafi's son denies being groomed for power
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By Heba Saleh in Sirte
Dressed in jeans and appearing confident, Colonel Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, gave short and precise answers to the journalists questioning him.

It was a thoroughly modern performance, in sharp contrast to the flowing robes and rambling language preferred by his father.

I have my own mission, they [the government] have their own mission.

Seif al-Islam
Our group had been specially flown to the town of Sirte on an elegant presidential plane in order to interview him.

In one of the vast marble halls in the building where the Libyan General People's Congress meets, Seif al-Islam sat underneath a portrait of his father.

We may have been surrounded by symbols of the Libyan state, fashioned according to Colonel Gaddafi's ideas, but Seif al-Islam insisted that his agenda is separate from that of the government.

"I run a non-governmental organisation, I have my own agenda, I have my own mission, they have their own mission. Sometimes we agree and sometimes not," he said.

No succession

The leader's second son heads the Gaddafi Foundation, a charity which tries to project a new and positive image of Libya.

The foundation has been involved in attempts to get Western hostages released in both the Philippines and Afghanistan.

Poster of Gaddafi on a building
Gaddafi overshadows everyone else in Libya

More recently it has been trying to fly out of Afghanistan Arab families caught up in the turmoil there.

Seif al-Islam's intervention has also secured vastly improved detention conditions for Bulgarian medical workers accused of infecting Libyan children with the virus which causes Aids.

All this is giving him a high profile in a country where the leader overshadows everyone.

Does it mean Seif al-Islam is being groomed for the succession?

No, he insists, that would be inconsistent with Libya's progressive system.

See also:

08 Jun 01 | World
Analysis: The new bogeymen
13 Jul 01 | Africa
Gaddafi driven to support Mugabe
09 Jul 01 | Africa
Q&A: African Union
11 Dec 99 | Middle East
Libya seeks new beginning
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