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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Gaddafi's son returns as football chief
The Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi,
Speculation has been raised over Mr Gaddafi's succession
By Nick Pelham in Tripoli

The Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, has reinstated his second son, Saidi, as president of the country's football federation.

Saidi had earlier resigned - apparently after complaints of bias in his role as Libya's leading referee and player.

Fireworks exploded over Tripoli on Tuesday to celebrate Saidi's return to the Football Federation.

Fans danced at the steps of his beachside villa and scout troops sang his praises through the early hours of the morning.

In demand

The celebrations are set to continue for a second night.

Thousands of fans from across Libya are being flown to Tripoli for a party in the country's main stadium.

The general-secretary of the football federation told the BBC the Libyan leader had responded to the wishes of all Libya's footballers.

He said that without Saidi, the league had been forced to freeze its activities.

Security

The reappointment confirms Saidi in control of Libya's most popular sport.

As well as heading the federation, he is also the Libyan representative at the Fifa, football's world governing body, and the captain of both the national team and Libya's leading premier league side, El-Ahali. Even when his team is not playing, Saidi collects the trophies.

He also takes care of security. To curb the often unruly crowds, his bodyguards have in the past opened fire on the stands.

Observers say the reappointment bolsters Saidi's position as the most prominent of Colonel Gaddafi's five sons.

Syria has already set a precedent for dynastic succession in an Arab republic. Libyans say they are now being prepared for another.

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See also:

04 Jun 00 | Football
Venables 'offered Libya job'
06 Jun 00 | Football
Gaddafi in Champions League BBC Sport >>
18 May 00 | Middle East
Boro beaten 1-0 in Libya
02 May 00 | Middle East
Libya: From pariah to participant
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