- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2013

The man nominated to serve as Libya’s foreign minister has declined to take the job, despite being cleared by a panel that investigated his links to late dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Ali Aujali cited personal reasons for his decision.

“It was an honor to have been nominated as foreign minister, and I have expressed my apologies to the prime minister for not taking the position,” said Mr. Aujali.

Mr. Aujali served as the Gadhafi regime’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 unitl February 2011, when he resigned soon after the start of Libya’s popular uprising. He continued to serve as the rebels’ envoy in Washington.

Some Libyans saw him as being too close to the Gadhafi regime, especially the dictator’s second son and erstwhile heir apparent, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi.

Mr. Aujali has only met Seif al-Islam Gadhafi once, said a source close to the ambassador, who spoke on background.

Moammar Gadhafi was killed by rebels in his hometown of Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi is in the custody of an independent militia in the western Libyan city of Zintan. He has been held for more than a year without being charged.

Eight of the 27 ministers nominated by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan were investigated by an Integrity Commission after questions were raised over their past ties to Gadhafis.

The commission cleared Mr. Aujali on Nov. 27. He was, however, conspicuously absent from a Dec. 9 meeting of the Congress at which he was to take the oath of office.

• Ashish Kumar Sen can be reached at asen@washingtontimes.com.

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