Appealing to the people


This has been the tale of two balconies.

The first was in Algiers yesterday when David Cameron saw the balcony from which President de Gaulle famously appealed to the masses in a 1958 tour aimed at fighting off bloody demands for Algerian independence.

Today in Tripoli, the prime minister passed the balcony in what was Green Square and is now Martyrs' Square, where Colonel Gaddafi equally famously addressed a million Libyans who were chanting his name.

This morning a new crowd gathered there as word travelled that a visitor had arrived unannounced.

"Welcome, Cameron. Welcome," they said.

These days complete secrecy and heavy security - armoured cars and police helicopters - are needed to minimise the risk to a prime minister visiting Tripoli: even one regarded as a liberator.

Last week the Foreign Office ordered British citizens to leave Libya's second city, Benghazi, after warnings of an imminent threat to Westerners.

Britain's answer is to help train police here as David Cameron told recruits at Tripoli's police training college that their job now was even more important than overthrowing Gaddafi.

The UN envoy to Libya has warned that the conflict in Mali risks spilling over here as guns and heavily armed rebels cross borders from one conflict zone to another.

I put it to the prime minister that this would convince some that outside intervention always makes things worse. He insists that this is wrong.

David Cameron wants people to remember what things were like before Gaddafi was overthrown.

He has secured a promise that police investigating the Lockerbie bombing could visit here to pursue their enquiries. The promise came from a man who was protesting against Gaddafi outside the Libyan embassy in London on the day PC Yvonne Fletcher was shot. Today that man - Ali Zidan - is Prime Minister of Libya.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Mr Cameron's "Hello i am the man who bombed your country and handed it over to insane Islamic militia and murderers" tour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    As Cameron is so worried about poverty, on his way back he may wish to visit Israel with Hague and ask them to stop trying to start another war via Syria.He could also visit Palestine now that it exists and see the poverty that is being imposed by its neighbour. But then I forgot he supports the declared actions of Israel as evidenced by Hague's comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    #38 spam spam spam
    1 hour ago
    Please, dont be so stupid as some comments are, the uranium is either used in French/UK/EU power stations or bombs for jihadists.

    And what would a 'jihadist' do with a lump of unrefined uranium? Pick it up and throw it at us? I love how you asked someone else not to be so stupid. Are you trying to corner the market?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    1. BBC coverage of the whole Africa affair couldn't be more biased!!
    2. North Africa has been fighting insurgents since 1991. 22 years where has the world been!? and NOW Europe wants to help!? fooling people to think it is a new issue. No it is not, the militants have been in north Africa for over 20 yrs.But now Europe's energy companies have bigger presence there, hence the sudden urge to care ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    AndyC555 (80 & 79) I know more about poverty first hand from doing something about it my foolish friend, but like all myoptic supporters of the present Tory led government you would justify anything in the name of profit no matter how dirty.


Comments 5 of 144



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