The UN general secretary's special envoy to Libya Abdul Elah al-Khatib said Tuesday that the Libyan regime had sought his intervention ahead of a weekend assault by rebels on the capital.
Khatib, a former Jordanian foreign minister, has been reported telling Jordan's semi-government Al-Dustur Arabic daily in an interview, "A few days before the rebel assault on Tripoli started, Libyan officials urged me to intervene."
He went on to say that in his reply he told them that, as a mediator I was looking for anything that is acceptable to the other side, which has refused to talk about anything else but the departure of Libyan leader Muammar AL Qathfi."
Khatib said the rebels "were not in the mood for negotiating anything else. They were seeking decisiveness and a commitment that Al Qathafi would leave before negotiations."
Libyan rebels declared the Al Qathafi era over after storming Tripoli on Sunday, but as he defiantly refuted reports of his arrest, the leader's son Seif al-Islam insisted early morning Tuesday that the battle was far from over.
Exultant rebel fighters packed in trucks and cars have since Sunday streamed across the Libyan capital, Tripoli. They have manaed to also seize control of the country's state Telvision station, the heart of the capital, Green Square, and various other areas.
Khatib said that, "The Libyan leadership have misread and underestimated the international position, thinking it would weaken or change.
My mission is about to end. But I will spare no efforts to provide any help in the coming short period," he added.
Meanwhile, rebels in Tripoli said they were confident that the Libyan leader was still in the capital, probably at the fortified Bab al-Azziziyah compound, which Al Qathafi loyalists still control. But NATO has targeted the compound so frequently that few Libyans really believe Al Qathafi has been staying there recently.
Other rebels suspect that he may be hiding in a house somewhere in the area and they have erected checkpoints around the city to ensure he did not escape. There's also a possibility, that if he has not already left the country, could have taken refuge perhaps weeks ago in the southern city of Sabha or the central coastal town of Sirte, his home town and most staunchly loyal stronghold.
AL Qathafi has not been seen in public since June, although he has delivered numerous audio statements, most recently as the rebels swept into Tripoli late Sunday. It looks as if these audio messages wpn't be heard anymore as the radio and TV station have been taken over by the rebels.
Khatib and UN leader Ban Ki-moon's special advisor on post-conflict Libya, Ian Martin, were to travel to Doha this week to meet leaders of the Libyan transitional government, while France said Monday that it wanted to call a top-level meeting in Paris next week of the so-called Contact Group of nations supporting the Libyan rebels: the United States, Britain, several Arab states, the United Nations and the Arab League.