x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Qaddafi tells Egyptians they should have let Mubarak stay in power

As Nato pounds Libyan leader's Tripoli HQ and Germany lends rebels €100m. Qaddafi says Mubarak was 'a poor and modest man' who loved his people, and should have stayed as president.

TRIPOLI // The Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi has criticised the uprising in Egypt that forced Hosni Mubarak from power, telling Egyptians that Mr Mubarak was "a poor and modest man" who loved his people, and should have stayed as president.

Colonel Qaddafi, who has so far repelled four months of Nato-led air strikes and a rebel campaign against his 41-year rule, has questioned the value of the movements in Egypt and Tunisia.

Delivering a radio address to Egyptians on the anniversary of the coup in 1952 that ended Egypt's monarchy and paved the way for the late Gamal Abdel Nasser to take power, Colonel Qaddafi said: "Why did you undertake the revolution? Tunisia and Egypt, what did you accomplish? Substitution of one government regime for another?"

Colonel Qaddafi, who came to power in a coup in 1969 inspired by Nasser's pan-Arab ideals, defended Mr Mubarak, who is due to stand trial on charges of abuse of power and killing protesters. He suggested that Egyptians had been hasty in pushing him from power without a clear alternative.

"Instead of being humiliated, Hosni Mubarak should be honoured. It would have even been better if he had remained president of Egypt," Colonel Qaddafi said. Yesterday, explosions rocked Tripoli for the second night in a row, as Britain said weeks of Nato bombardment had inflicted extensive damage on Colonel Qaddafi's compound.

The explosions hit Tripoli at about 1am, a day after Nato launched strikes on what it said was a military command site in Tripoli.

Major General Nick Pope, the chief of the defence staff's communications officer, said Royal Air Force aircraft struck the high perimeter walls of Colonel Qaddafi's Bab Al Aziziyah complex.

Major General Pope said: "Qaddafi has for decades hidden from the Libyan people behind these walls. The vast Bab Al Aziziyah compound is not just his personal residence, but more importantly is also the main headquarters for his regime, with command and control facilities and an army barracks.

"Successive Nato strikes in past weeks have inflicted extensive damage on the military facilities within."

Germany will lend Libya's rebel council €100 million (Dh527m) for civil and humanitarian purposes, the country's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said yesterday.

Berlin has opposed the Western military intervention in Libya but has promised to help topple Colonel Gaddafi through peaceful methods and has recognised Libya's rebel council as its sole legitimate representative.

Mr Westerwelle said: "We have decided to provide the Libyan transition council with urgently needed funding for civil and humanitarian measures.

"Due to Colonel Qaddafi's war against his own people, the funding is lacking to build necessary structures and to overcome supply shortages from medical care to food."

The loan could be paid back from frozen Libyan assets once the United Nations Security Council releases them to a new Libyan government, Mr Westerwelle said.

As Western nations have intensified diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, a European diplomat has said that a UN envoy would seek to persuade warring parties in Libya to accept a plan that envisages a ceasefire and a power-sharing government, but with no role for Colonel Qaddafi.

The diplomat said the informal proposals would be canvassed by the special UN envoy to Libya, Abdul Elah Al Khatib, who has met both government and rebels several times.

Mr Al Khatib, a Jordanian senator, said in Amman he hoped that both sides would accept his ideas.

"The UN is exerting very serious efforts to create a political process that has two pillars; one is an agreement on a ceasefire and simultaneously an agreement on setting up a mechanism to manage the transitional period," he said.

Complicating Colonel Qaddafi's situation is the fact that the world court in The Hague seeks his arrest for crimes against humanity allegedly committed by his forces. This makes it difficult for him to find refuge outside the country.