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Gadhafi will not admit defeat, says former Libyan PM

By Bryony Jones and Susannah Palk, CNN
  • Mustapha Ben Halim accuses Gadhafi of of stripping Libya of much of its wealth
  • Ben Halim served as Prime Minister of Libya for three years, from 1954 to 1957
  • He was abroad when Gadhafi snatched control of the country in a coup in 1969
  • The 90-year old says he is hopeful of a brighter future for his homeland

London (CNN) -- Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is unlikely to give in without a fight, despite rebels storming large areas of Tripoli in recent days, the country's ex-Prime Minister says.

"He will not admit defeat," Mustapha Ben Halim told CNN's Becky Anderson. "I think he might go outside Libya and say that he is going to continue his fight. But I doubt this guy will get the reason, the real thinking, that the circus is finished."

Ben Halim accused Gadhafi, whose exact whereabouts remained a mystery on Tuesday, of stripping Libya of much of its wealth.

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"There is only one way Gadhafi wants to achieve, to have Libya belonging to him," he said. "Not only has he grabbed everything, but there is no control in him, no responsibility, nothing. He does what he likes."

Ben Halim served as Prime Minister of Libya for three years, from 1954 to 1957, and after leaving office worked as an advisor to the country's ruler, King Idris.

When Gadhafi snatched control of the country in a coup in 1969, the politician-turned-businessman was overseas. Unable to return home, he and his family moved to Beirut in Lebanon, before settling in Britain in the 1970s.

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Now, more than 40 years on, the 90-year old says he is hopeful of a brighter future for his homeland, as Gadhafi's grip on the country finally appears to be weakening.

"I think we will have a good future, provided we realize that our problems begin the day he goes -- they do not end there," he told CNN.

"The new people -- and I know some of them, and they are excellent people -- but they have to try to start making a real government, a government which guarantees freedom, a government with complete transparency, a government based on a good foundation.

"You have to build on a good basement, which is parliament, the voice of the people."

Ben Halim's son Ahmed said some confusion was inevitable in the transitional period.

"[Gadhafi's] regime is over, Tripoli is taken, our government is going to be coming very soon back to Tripoli... Is there going to be chaos? I think so, for a while, but at the end it will be ordered chaos as the interim council slowly, slowly tries to establish order and people begin to come to their senses.

"As long as they begin to get all these old vestiges of the regime out of the way, things will settle down."

His father said it was vital that whoever formed the country's new government, remembered those who had helped to bring about the huge change in Libya.

"We have about 20,000 thousand martyrs, these 20,000 have left orphans, have left families," he said.

"They have to take care of these people immediately. Also, they have to take care of these people they call revolutionaries, the people who fought with bare hands, and try to form a government where everyone can contribute to it."

Another of Ben Halim's son's, Amr, said recent events and activities in rebel-held Benghazi suggest a positive outlook for the country as a whole.

"What's amazing is that in the last few months in Benghazi there have been over 150 civil society organizations mushrooming up, all are championing democracy, freedom, humanitarian law and active civil society.

"It's fantastic to see... If that's any indication of what the future of Libya is once Gadhafi is out then it's a very great future, I'm greatly encouraged."

And despite living for so long in exile, his sister, the former Prime Minister's daughter, Sherine Jafar, said the news from Tripoli had, for the first time, left her feeling proud of her heritage.

"It's incredible, tremendous," she said. "The fact that I can say in a loud and clear voice, 'I am Libyan,' is the most incredible feeling in the world. What a freedom. Bless the freedom fighters, bless them."

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