LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Embarrassed by funding ties to Libya, Britain’s prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) university moved on Monday to repudiate a research grant it received from a charity chaired by a son of Muammar Gaddafi.
A university statement said it planned to set aside £300,000 ($487,000), equivalent to the sum it had so far received from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, for purposes agreed with the LSE’s wider academic community.
“In particular, the School is looking into establishing a scholarship fund for Libyan students,” it said, adding the university’s leadership would consider the plan on Tuesday.
Students began a sit-in at the LSE’s city centre premises on Feb. 22 in protest at the funding, in light of a violent crackdown by the Libyan government against pro-democracy demonstrators. The statement said the sit-in had finished.
Saif al-Islam, a son of Gaddafi who heads the Foundation, helped arrange a 2009 agreement for the charity to provide 1.5 million pounds for an LSE research programme on north Africa. Only 300,000 pounds of the funding has been disbursed.
The LSE said on Feb. 23 it had stopped the programme and no further funding would be accepted.
Himself a graduate of the LSE, al-Islam has become the main spokesman for his father’s administration since protesters took over the east of the country and rioted in the capital.
In a speech on state television last week, al-Islam said if protests did not stop “instead of mourning 84 (people killed), we will be mourning hundreds of thousands.”
Before, al-Islam had been seen by many Western governments as the acceptable public face of his father’s rule. He played a central role in negotiating the lifting of U.S. and European sanctions on Libya in 2004. (Reporting by William Maclean, Editing by Angus MacSwan)