Sinlung /
26 February 2011

As Libya Burns, Gaddafi ‘Dances’

Tripoli, Feb 26 : Even as the US on Saturday slapped heavy sanctions on embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the UN secretary general blasted the Libyan strongman, Gaddafi made an unexpected appearance in Tripoli's Green Square, greeting a crowd of his supporters in a show of strength that he still had control over the capital.

As Libya burns, Gaddafi `dances'

"We will die here on the soil of Libya. We will defeat foreign attempts as we did the former Italian imperialism," he said as he waved the Libyan flag, DPA reported.

"We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people," Gaddafi said, in footage that was aired by Libyan state television Friday.

"You, the youth, be comfortable... dance, sing, stay up all night," he said, Al Jazeera reported.

Pro-democracy demonstrations inspired by the successful revolutions that deposed decades-long rulers in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt have engulfed Libya since Feb 14.

Gaddafi's last speech on Thursday evening had been made by phone, leading to speculation about his physical condition.

The footage aired on Friday, however, showed the leader standing above the square, waving his fist as he spoke.

His speech came even as thousands of protesters against his regime across Libya focused their attention on the capital Friday afternoon, following the mid-day prayer.

As demonstrators in Tripoli took to the street, security forces loyal to Gaddafi reportedly began firing on them.

There was heavy gun fire in various Tripoli districts including Fashloum, Ashour, Jumhouria and Souq Al, sources told Al Jazeera.

The death toll since violence began remains unclear, though Francois Zimeray, France's top human rights official, said Thursday it could be as high as 2,000.

Demonstrators in the eastern part of the country, a region believed to be largely free from Gaddafi's control, held protests in support for the demonstrations in the capital.

As Libya burns, Gaddafi `dances'

In the town of Derna, protesters held banners with the messages including "We are one Tribe called Libya, our only capital is Tripoli, we want freedom of speech".

Gaddafi, who came to power 41 years ago in a bloodless military coup, Tuesday vowed to fight on to his "last drop of blood" and called on his supporters to confront the protesters.

Meanwhile, a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi offered to withhold attacks on regime opponents Saturday and negotiate.

In remarks delivered late Friday, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi also denied that mercenaries have taken part in attacking protesters after witnesses said mercenaries from Chad, Mali and other African countries have been involved in attacks on protesters who are calling for Muammar Gaddafi's ouster.

"We are dealing with terrorists," the son said. "The army decided not to attack the terrorists and give them an opportunity for negotiation. We hope to do this in a peaceful way, and we will do so by tomorrow."

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi also vowed that the state would regain control over eastern cities. Witnesses said protesters are now in control of most of the eastern cities, including Benghazi, the second-largest city after the capital, Tripoli.

Muammar Gaddafi and his family insisted that Libya's uprising was instigated by Al Qaeda terrorist agents and Islamic fundamentalists and vowed to kill opponents of the regime. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday estimated the number of deaths at 1,000.

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

It is not everyday that you come across a dictator who enjoys the company of a female guard force, carries off pink with panache and of course has the blood of hundreds on his hands.

But you have got to admit- the flamboyancy of Libyan leader Col Muamer Gaddafi has forced the world to take notice of a man who intends to be different- be it in politics or his sense of fashion.

Recently, the world got to know a little more about the man's eccentricities through Wikileaks cables.

For instance, Gaddafi dislikes long flights and has an apparent fear of flying over water which regularly causes logistical headaches. During every international summit he attends, the Libyan delegation cannot fly more than eight hours and would halt overnight if the journey was to be longer.

Then there are some of his practices that are pretty infamous. On foreign trips, Gaddafi sets up camp in a luxury Bedouin tent and is accompanied by armed female bodyguards.

Take a quick peek into the colourful world of Colonel Muamer Gaddafi.

Gaddafi's 'Angels'

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

The Colonel's female guard force is now legendary. These bodyguards stick real close to the Libyan leader in his domestic and international public appearances.

Seen in this file photo is one of the Libyan leader's personal body guard armed with a Heckler and Koch MP5K sub-machine gun.

So, why women? Gaddafi claims they are 'less easily distracted than their male counterparts'.

Gaddafi's 'Angels'

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

Incidentally, this all-women force played no role in his travels to New York in 2009 sparking rumours that they may be now playing a diminished role in his life. Only one female guard was included among the 350-person strong Libyan delegation to New York.
Did the women turn out to 'be the distraction' after all?

The 'Life of the African Party'

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

When you take a closer look at photographs from various African summits the leader attends, you notice he goes all out to break the ice! Gaddafi has been seen indulging in chit-chat and gestures that leave his peers either highly amused or thoroughly embarrassed.

Above, Col Moummar Gaddafi talks with Pan African Parliament President Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania during the photocall of the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon. Hmm, what's the little joke, Colonel?

The 'Life of the African Party'

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

In this file photo, he is seen leaning on the shoulders of former Egyptian President Mubarak and President of Yemen Saleh during a photocall before the second Afro-Arab Summit in Sirte. (Interesting to note that his best mates in the African states face similar trouble in their countries now)

The 'Life of the African Party'

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

And here's a big 'thumbs up' to the EU-Africa summit, as Gaddafi clasps hands with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy (left of Gaddafi) and Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba (Right of Gaddafi) as they pose in November 2010. Indeed, Colonel. You are the life of the party.

A man of many moods?

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

If there is one international event that Gaddafi took by storm, it was his first ever UN address in September 2009. The pictures say it all.

Gaddafi accused the veto-wielding powers of the Security Council of betraying the principles of the U.N. charter. The Libyan leader held a Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice as he spoke, dropped it on the podium several times before tossing it over his shoulder.

A man of many moods?

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

The eccentric leader lived up to his reputation at the UN General Assembly. In his 100-minute rant, Gaddafi ridiculed the UNSC, calling it a 'terror council'. Of course, the excitement took a toll on his throat.

Gaddafi's 'Show of strength'!

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

Right: Gaddafi gestures at the end of his address to the 64th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2009.

Centre: Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi gestures as he attends the Second Forum for Kings, Sultans, Princes, Sheikhs and Mayors of Africa in Tripoli in September 2010.

Left: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi acknowledges the crowd in Sebha, about 700km (435 miles) south of Tripoli October 5, 2009

Yes, this is the official 'Gaddafi move'!

Indulgence: Horse-racing, flamenco dancing

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

The Libyan leader is most passionate about two things- horse racing and flamenco dancing. Gaddafi is believed to never miss out on an opportunity to catch a race or a performance wherever he travels.

Here, Italy's Barbary cavalry perform for the Libyan leader in Rome when he visited Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2010.

Watch out, Fashion Police!

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

They say leave the best for the last!

Gaddafi's wardrobe may have fashionistas tearing their hair out, but what he whips out from it, screams he is 'different'- loud, challenging and untamable.

Gaddafi who is a staunch supporter of a 'United Africa' has, many a time, adapted his dresses accordingly. He has sported clothes that have even carried emblems of the African continent or portraits of African leaders.
Well, apart from that you have the cascading pinks, purples, maroons. You name the shade, he's got it.

Watch out, Fashion Police!

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

When the rest go sober in black or deep blue, the dictator decides he needs pearly white.

Here's Gaddafi, in a lineup of G8 leaders in 2009 in Italy. A white suit under the traditional Arabic bisht, accessorized with a small billboard of medals and, on his right breast, a brooch of Africa- just in case anyone forgot he was the president of the African Union.

Col Muamer Gaddafi- The Unforgettable

The Colonel's Colourful Chronicles

Today, Colonel Muamer Gaddafi stands defiant. He would rather die than step down as president.

Whatever be the outcome of the battle- the portrait Gaddafi has painted of himself is one the world cannot forget, however hard we may try.

Source: India Syndicate/ Reuters

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