Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Air Algérie crash: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

Africa

Gaddafi dismisses rumours he has fled the country

Video by Louise Hannah

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-22

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has appeared on state television to deny rumours he had fled to Venezuela amid the worst unrest to hit the country in his 41-year rule.

REUTERS - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi signalled his defiance in the face of a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule on Tuesday, making a brief appearance on state television and denying he had fled the country.

His forces have cracked down fiercely on anti-government demonstrators, with fighting now spreading to the capital Tripoli after erupting in Libya's oil-producing east last week.
 
"A feeling this is a Rwanda moment: either you act or there will be blood on the hands of the UN"
In his first appearance on television since the revolt broke out, Gaddafi was shown holding an umbrella in a 22-second statement. He denied reports that he had fled to Venezuela, ruled by his friend President Hugo Chavez.
 
"I want to show that I'm in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs," said Gaddafi, leaning out of a van in front of his house.
 
"I wanted to say something to the youths at Green Square (in Tripoli) and stay up late with them but it started raining. Thank God, it's a good thing," added Gaddafi, who took power in a military coup in 1969 when he toppled King Idriss.
 
Security forces have killed dozens of protesters across the vast, thinly populated nation stretching from the Mediterranean deep into the Sahara desert, human rights groups and witnesses said, prompting widespread condemnation from world leaders.
 
Demonstrations spread to Tripoli after several cities in the east -- including Benghazi where the protests had first erupted -- appeared to fall to the opposition, according to residents.
 
Cracks were beginning to appear among Gaddafi's supporters, with a group of army officers calling on soldiers to "join the people" and two senior fighter pilots defecting to nearby Malta.
 
The U.N. Security Council will hold a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to discuss the crisis, diplomats said.
 
 
Residents had earlier reported gunfire in parts of Tripoli and one political activist said warplanes had bombed the city.
 
"What we are witnessing today is unimaginable. Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead," Adel Mohamed Saleh said in a live broadcast on al Jazeera television.
 
Residents said queues of anxious shoppers trying to stock up on food and drink had formed outside stores. Some shops were closed.
 
Oil prices have soared on worries over instability in the OPEC member. Ninety percent of Libya's oil exports come from the eastern region of Cyrenaica, epicentre of the revolt.
 
International Energy Agency (IEA) chief economist Fatih Birol said on Tuesday that oil prices were in the danger zone and could rise higher if turmoil persisted in the Middle East.
 
World condemnation
 
Upheavals which deposed the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt have shaken the Arab world and inspired protests across the Middle East and North Africa, threatening the grip of long-entrenched autocratic leaders.
 
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said at least 233 people had been killed in five days of violence in Libya. Opposition groups put the figure much higher. No independent verification was available and communications from outside was difficult.
 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was "time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed". EU foreign ministers condemned the killing of protesters and pledged to support democratic transition resulting from the unrest.
 
U.N. diplomats said the closed-door meeting had been requested by Libyan deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi and would start at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT).
 
Dabbashi and other diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations announced on Monday they had sided with protesters and were calling for Gaddafi's overthrow.
 
Earlier, a group of army officers issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to "join the people" and help remove Gaddafi, Al Arabiya television said. The justice minister has also resigned in protest at the use of force.
 
Two Libyan fighter jets landed in Malta, their pilots defecting after they said they had been ordered to bomb protesters, Maltese government officials said.
 
Libyan guards have withdrawn from their side of the border with Egypt and people's committees were now in control of the crossing, the Egyptian army said, without making it clear if the groups now in control of the border were loyal to Gaddafi.
 
A flamboyant figure with his flowing robes and a penchant for female bodyguards, Gaddafi is one of the most recognisable figures on the world stage.
 
The West has accused him of links to terrorism and revolutionary movements. U.S. President Ronald Reagan once called him a "mad dog" and sent planes to bomb Libya in 1986.
 
Gaddafi was particularly reviled after the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, by Libyan agents in which 270 people were killed.

Date created : 2011-02-22

  • LIBYA

    Gaddafi hangs on after a day of defiance and bloodshed

    Read more

  • COMMODITIES

    Oil prices soar for a second day as unrest threatens Libyan supply

    Read more

COMMENT(S)