A spokesman for Muammar Qaddafi says Qaddafi is open to the idea of Libya holding elections and reforming its political system -- but he says that only the Libyan people can decide whether Qaddafi should stay as ruler of the country.
Spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said Libya will not accept conditions being imposed from abroad. Western nations, for example, have called on Qaddafi to leave power.
But, faced with an armed rebellion from the east of the country, the spokesman said Qaddafi's regime is now ready to discuss proposals aimed at bringing more democracy, transparency, press freedom and anti-corruption laws to the North African country.
Ibrahim described Qaddafi as a "safety valve" and unifying figure whom many Libyans believe can prevent the country from turning into another Iraq, Somalia or Afghanistan.
"He (Qaddafi) has this symbolic significance for the Libyan people. How Libya is governed is a different matter,” Ibrahim told reporters. “What kind of political system is implemented in the country is a different matter. This is negotiable. We can talk about it -- we can have anything, elections, referenda, anything."
The comments came as Qaddafi's forces remain locked in conflict in eastern Libya with rebels trying to topple Qaddafi's more than 40-year rule.
In a boost for the rebel side, Italy has offered diplomatic recognition to the Libyan opposition council -- becoming the third country to do so after France and Qatar.
The United States, meanwhile, has announced that its fighter planes have now withdrawn from the international air campaign against Qaddafi's forces, with jets from other NATO countries now taking over.
compiled from agency reports