Muammar Gaddafi will neither leave Libya nor step down and a bloody fight to the end is likely with protesters intent on driving him out, the Libyan leader's former head of protocol said on Tuesday.
Nuri al-Mismari -- who has been at Gaddafi's side for almost 40 years and in France since late 2010 for heart surgery -- resigned on Monday from his post as chief of state protocol.
He will continue. There is nobody stronger than the people, but he will not leave Libya, he will not step down, al-Mismari told Reuters in an interview in a Paris hotel.
Gaddafi used tanks, helicopters and warplanes to fight a growing revolt, witnesses said on Tuesday, after scoffing overnight at reports he had fled to Venezuela.
Al-Mismari said he was hearing the veteran leader is seeking dialogue with tribal chiefs to calm the situation but believes the level of bloodshed means it is too late for talks.
There will be a struggle of the people until the end, but they will win, he said, as rights groups put the death toll in Libya above 233 and opposition groups put it even higher.
After all this killing and bloodshed people will not accept any longer to enter dialogue. It is too late, he said.
Al-Mismari was one of Gaddafi's key confidantes and witnessed first-hand how the North African country returned to international good grace after decades in isolation.
Standing out with his tailored jackets and groomed white hair and beard, al-Mismari was a constant presence at Gaddafi's side on trips and met leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama.
He told Reuters he doubted the army would obey any orders to turn on civilians, despite reports of warplanes bombing portions of Tripoli and mercenaries attacking people in the streets.
He also said he saw civil war as unlikely as people on the street were fighting for human rights and not partition.
There are tribes, but we are Libyans at the end of the day. I don't think the Libyans will fight against each other, they are not asking to split Benghazi from Tripoli. We are covered under a single umbrella which is Libya, he said.
GADDAFI TENT IS PROUD SYMBOL
Al-Mismari was detained in France in November at the request of Tripoli, which wants to try him on embezzlement charges that he denies and says may have been a ruse to bring him home.
Planning to seek asylum somewhere outside Libya, he said he regretted Gaddafi's actions against protesters.
It is disgusting what he is doing, he said. Killing innocent people with bombing airplanes ... he doesn't care.
As part of his tiny inner circle, al-Mismari had access to Gaddafi's mystical tent, the traditional quarters he insists on using when travelling abroad and open only to visiting dignitaries and his closest aides.
Asked about it, al-Mismari said: He is a Bedouin and we know the Bedouin are proud of their tents. Some people carry a stick, others pick a colourful shirt. It's like his trademark.
Al-Mismari says he was in contact with Tripoli during his stay in France, which Libya has paid for, and that last week one of Gaddafi's sons came to Paris to ask him to return.
A French court released al-Mismari from custody in December ahead of an extradition hearing which was later postponed while the judge requested more information from Tripoli.
The Libyans wanted me back because they were afraid of this. I think they knew something was going to happen, he said, dismissing that others will still view him as in Gaddafi's camp.
I was only a government official performing my duty, he said. My tribes know that and under Gaddafi, to be honest, there was one law: either you are with me or against me.