Gaddafi's Hold On Libya Weakens

by
staphni
Leader appears on state TV briefly to signal defiance in the face of mounting revolt against his 41-year rule.

Protesters in Libya have called for another night of defiance against Muammar Gaddafi's government

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has appeared on state television to signal his defiance in the face of a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule.

"I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs," Gaddafi told Libyan state TV, which said he was speaking outside his house on TuesdayReports on Monday said Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela.

Gaddafi, in his first televised appearance since protests to topple him started last week, was holding an umbrella in the rain and leaning out of a van.

"I wanted to say something to the youths at the Green Square (in Tripoli) and stay up late with them but it started raining. Thank God, it's a good thing," Gaddafi said in a 22-second appearance.

State TV reported earlier that pro-government demonstrations were taking place in Green Square in the capital.

Libyan forces loyal to Gaddafi have fought an increasingly bloody battle to keep the veteran leader in power with residents reporting gunfire in parts of the capital Tripoli and one political activist saying warplanes had bombed the city.

Scores of people have been reported killed in continuing violence in Tripoli amid escalating protests across the north African nation.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said "in a sense this is a pariah regime that will not have any chance of governing anymore and the international community could come to terms on whether this is a genocide and whether there should be international intervention to protect the Libyan people from the militias of the regime".
Gaddafi, now facing a bloody uprising, has ruled oil-rich Libya with an iron fist since a coup in 1969
"We've heard even a NATO spokesman saying that the Libyan regime should stop committing war crimes against its people so I think there is momentum out there but certainly it's not quick enough."

Deep cracks were showing and Gaddafi seemed to be losing vital support, as Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigned, air force pilots defected and major government buildings were targeted during clashes in the capital.

At least 61 people were killed in the capital city on Monday, witnesses told Al Jazeera. The protests appeared to be gathering momentum, with demonstrators saying they have taken control of several important towns and the city of Benghazi, to the east of Tripoli.
Gaddafi is known as much for his eccentric clothing and female bodyguards as for his repressive rule
Protesters called for another night of defiance against the Arab world's longest-serving leader, despite a crackdown by authoritiesA huge anti-government march in Tripoli on Monday afternoon came under attack by security forces using fighter jets and live ammunition, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

"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 .

"Anyone who moves, even if they are in their car, they will hit you."

 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was "time to stop this unnacceptable bloodshed" in Libya.

A group of army officers issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to "join the people" and help remove Gaddafi.

The justice minister resigned in protest at the "excessive use of violence" against protesters and diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations called on the Libyan army to help overthrow "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi".
Libyan people take part in a protest in the seaport city of Tobruk February 20, 2011.
Both Libya and Venezuela denied reports that Gaddafi had fled to the South American country.Libyan state television said Gaddafi would give a speech shortly.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 authorities have cut all landline and wireless communication in the country, making it impossible to verify the report.

With reports of large-scale military operations under way in Tripoli, a spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon said the UN chief held extensive discussions with Gaddafi on Monday, condemned the escalating violence in Libya and told him that it "must stop immediately”.

" ... The secretary-general underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances. He urged all parties to exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the population,” Ban's spokesperson said.

For this part, several Libyan diplomats at the country's UN mission called on Gaddafi to step down.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador, said that if Gaddafi did not relinquish power, "the Libyan people [would] get rid of him”.

"We don't agree with anything the regime is doing ... we are here to serve the Libyan people," he told Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera English