- North Africa
- Conflicts - Demonstration - Governance
Libya: Gaddafi’s national address marks his end
It is difficult to exactly comprehend the logic in Muammar Gaddafi’s defiant speech on Tuesday Februar 22- his first major speech since unrest began last week. The public address which obviously lacked the insights of a public relations team and the diplomacy of a state-of-the-nation address reflected a leader insolent of both the wider world and the reality of events around him.
Some experts say his language, while undoubtedly aimed at shoring up what support he still has left in the country, was one of old-fashioned nationalist slogans from the 1960s and 70s.
Delivering what many analysts have described as an outlandish speech, Gaddafi said the whole world looked up to Libya and that protests were "serving the devil.”
Unfortunately for Gaddafi, the whole world has never looked up to Libya. And Human Rights Watch says the regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death.
The country has a law forbidding group activity based on a political ideology opposed to Col Gaddafi’s revolution. Opposing ideologies has been ruthlessly crushed and the media remains under strict government control. Torture and disappearances have also been reported.
Whilst protesting against a dictatorship that has lasted four decades is not synonymous to worshiping the devil; Gaddafi’s definition of the devil remains thwarted.
Gaddafi who is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world said he had no official position from which to resign, and would remain the head of the revolution.
Gaddafi has a position from which he could resign if the people demand his resignation. Although in 1977 he invented a system called the "Jamahiriya" or "state of the masses", in which power is meant to be held by thousands of "peoples’ committees", Gaddafi in practice, has retained absolute, authoritarian control. He is president of Libya; the leader of the Libyan nation and head of state of the armed forces of Libya.
The Libyan leader who presents himself as the spiritual guide of the nation said he would "cleanse Libya house by house. But the question is with what he would cleanse Libyans of- evil spirits.
The troubled leader said the country could descend into civil war or be occupied by the US and Britain if protests continued.
The situation in Libya is a protest for political change. Libyans fed up with Gaddafi’s authoritarian regime accused of serious human rights abuses seek to replace their government through a peaceful revolution like their Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts.
However the biggest threat of civil war comes from Gaddafi’s use of force or advocating for attack on anti-Gaddafi protesters.
"Come out of your homes, attack them in their dens. Withdraw your children from the streets. They are drugging your children; they are making your children drunk and sending them to hell. If matters require, we will use force, according to international law and the Libyan constitution," Gaddafi said.
Also, the claim of a US or British occupation of Libya is unfounded and arbitrary given the protests are born from the repression and tyranny suffered within Libya.
Gaddafi blamed the unrest on "cowards and traitors, rats and mercenaries" who had been given drink and drugs and urged people to arrest the protesters and hand them over to the security forces.
"Those who love Muammar Gaddafi" should come out on to the streets, he said, telling them not to be afraid of the "gangs who were seeking to portray Libya as a place of chaos and to "humiliate" Libyans.
The disillusioned leader cited the Chinese authorities’ crushing of the student protests in Tiananmen Square as an example of national unity being "worth more than a small number of protesters". An analogy that shows little respect for human life.
Legitimizing the horrible events that occurred in China’s Tiananmen Square as an example of national unity is as problematic as legitimizing the holocaust in Germany or the genocide in Rwanda for any reason. “Anyone who played games with the country’s unity would be executed," he said.
According to analysts, Gaddafi’s speech was a speech from a bygone era from a man whose time they believe has long passed. And with such a state address, many believe Gaddafi’s rule is finished; it is only a question of how long it takes and how bloody the end will be.