BREAKING NEWS: Tripoli: ‘I Have Not Fled Libya’ Says Colonel Gaddafi

22 Feb

Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has appeared on state television to deny rumours he fled the country amid bloody clashes between protesters and security forces.

 Colonel Gaddafi: ‘I Have Not Fled Libya‘ Play video

Video: Colonel Gaddafi: ‘I Have Not Fled Libya’

The embattled dictator, whose 41-year rule is hanging in the balance, said he remains in capital city Tripoli.

He referred to foreign news channels who reported he had travelled to Venezuela as “dogs”.

His forces have cracked down on anti-government demonstrators, with fighting now spreading to Tripoli after erupting in Libya’s oil-producing east last week.

He made a brief and bizarre address from the passenger seat of a van clutching an umbrella through the open door, apparently to shelter him from the rain that has been falling in the capital for two days.

With large parts of Libya already believed to be under rebel control, crowds on the streets of Tripoli have reportedly been targeted by loyalist gunmen and airstrikes.

But Libyan official television denies the ‘massacre claims’.

Mr Gaddafi’s grip on power was looking increasingly shaky after a series of senior Libyan diplomats defected and spoke out against the brutal repression.

Libya’s ambassador to India has resigned following a crackdown on protests, saying African mercenaries were being used by the authorities, prompting some army troops to switch sides to the opposition.

:: Read Middle East correspondent, Dominic Waghorn’s blog

World powers have also condemned the use of force against protesters, with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accusing Libya of firing on civilians “from warplanes and helicopters”.

“This must stop immediately,” Ban said. The Security Council was to hold a meeting on Libya later in the day, according to diplomats.

Many leaders, including Britain’s David Cameron, have intensified their criticism of the regime, demanding an end to violence estimated to have cost more than 230 lives so far.

Relatively little reliable information has been coming out of Libya, but reports suggest some elements of the army are fighting loyalist forces.

Two Libyan fighter jets landed in Malta, their pilots defecting after they said they had been ordered to bomb protesters, according to the Maltese government.

During the television appearance, which lasted less than a minute, Mr Gaddafi said he had wanted to go to the capital’s Green Square to talk to his supporters, but the rain stopped him.

“I am here to show that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Don’t believe those misleading dog stations,” he said.

The unrest had not reached the capital until Sunday, when hundreds of protesters flooded the streets, but the situation there appears to have quickly escalated.

Justice Minister Mustapha Abdul Jalil has quit the government because of the “excessive use of violence”, according to a privately owned Libyan newspaper.

The country’s deputy envoy to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, has also called on the dictator to step down, accusing his government of genocide.

Libya’s most senior diplomat in America, Ali Aujali, said he was “not supporting the government killing its people”.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she “strongly condemned the violence in Libya”, insisting: “Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed.”

Mr Cameron, in Egypt during a tour of the volatile region, deployed some of the toughest language by branding the regime’s actions “completely appalling and unacceptable”.

“I call on them even at this late stage to stop. People’s aspirations for greater democracy, for greater freedom, for greater rights should be met with reform not repression,” he said.

In London, Libyan ambassador Omar Jelban was summoned to the Foreign Office to be told “in the strongest terms” of the Government’s “absolute condemnation” of the use of lethal force against protesters.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has promised the Government would give “every possible assistance” so the estimated 3,500 Britons in Libya could leave the country.

Speaking in Brussels, he said the wave of change sweeping the region represented “a major, historic test” for the European Union.

“Clearly, if we can succeed in bringing more democracy and more stability to Northern Africa and the wider Middle East, that will be the greatest achievement for the EU since its enlargement,” Mr Hague said.

“If we don’t succeed, the dangers for the EU of instability and extremism on our frontiers are immense.”

Venezuelan information minister Andres Izarra flatly denied a suggestion from Mr Hague that Mr Gaddafi could be heading for the South American country governed by his old ally, Hugo Chavez, saying: “It’s false.”

:: British citizens in Libya who need help or advice are urged to call 00218 21 335 1084. From the UK, the number to call for advice is 020 7008 1500.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: