Africa

US brands Muammar Gaddafi 'delusional' after interview

  • 1 March 2011
  • From the section Africa

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is "delusional" and "unfit to lead", the US ambassador to the UN has said.

Susan Rice was speaking after the embattled Colonel Gaddafi was interviewed by the BBC and others.

In the interview, Col Gaddafi said he was loved by all his people and denied there had been any protests in Tripoli.

It came as a humanitarian crisis involving thousands of Egyptian migrant workers stranded on the Tunisian border worsened.

About 2,000 are crossing into Tunisia every hour but once in Tunisia many of them have nowhere to go. Another 20,000 are said to be backed up on the Libyan side.

They are complaining that they have been forgotten by their government, says the BBC's Jim Muir on the border.

Food is being distributed but the relief effort is way behind the reality of the situation, our correspondent says.

The sanitation is a disaster and many are sleeping in roads and car parks, he adds.

The UN's World Food Programme said its head, Josette Sheeran, is expected to visit the border later on Tuesday.

In other developments:

  • An attack by pro-Gaddafi forces on the western town of Zawiya is repelled, witnesses say
  • Libyan air force planes also reportedly attacked ammunition depots in the eastern towns of Ajdabiya and Rajma
  • About 400 protesters gathered in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura on Monday - Gaddafi supporters tried to disperse them by firing in the air
  • Reports say there have been long queues in Tripoli banks as people tried to collect the 500 dinars ($410) promised by the government in an attempt to quell the unrest
  • Speaking at a UN human rights conference in Geneva on Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Col Gaddafi should go immediately but must be held accountable
  • The US Treasury says it has blocked $30bn (£18.5bn) in Libyan assets - the largest sum it has ever frozen

'No morals'

World foreign ministers earlier condemned attacks on Libyan civilians and the European Union imposed sanctions including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on Col Gaddafi and his close entourage.

Col Gaddafi is facing a massive challenge to his 41-year rule, with protesters in control of towns in the east.

He was answering questions in the capital Tripoli from BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, US TV network ABC, and the UK's Sunday Times newspaper.

He accused Western countries of abandoning Libya and said that they had no morals and wanted to colonise the country.

When asked whether he would resign, he said he could not step down as he did not have an official position - and insisted that the power in the country was with the people.

Col Gaddafi challenged those, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who have accused him of having money abroad, to produce evidence. He said he would "put two fingers in their eye".

Col Gaddafi said true Libyans had not demonstrated but those who had come on to the streets were under the influence of drugs supplied by Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

He said those people had seized weapons and that his supporters were under orders not to shoot back.

But in response to the interview, Susan Rice said the fact he was laughing at questions while "slaughtering his own people" showed that he was disconnected from reality.

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