Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Libyans finally understand what the rest of the world already knows: "He's crazy"
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- International condemnation of Moammar Gadhafi's use of force against civilians continued to grow Tuesday even as the Libyan leader denied the widely documented instances of violence and asserted he was loved throughout the country.
The European Parliament is scheduled to discuss the turmoil in the North African nation Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Gadhafi sounded "delusional" and a Libyan woman said protesters will eventually succeed in ousting Gadhafi because "too much blood has been shed."
And in another act of international condemnation of Gadhafi's regime, the Libyan Embassy in Washington will take down the Libyan flag Tuesday and replace it with one that flew in Libya before Gadhafi took power in 1969, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Government forces have repeatedly clashed with demonstrators over the past two weeks in Libya, fired on crowds and at times shot indiscriminately at people in the streets, numerous witnesses have told CNN.
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It is unclear how many people have died in fighting between government troops and rebels. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said deaths have topped 1,000, while Libya's ambassador to the United States estimated Monday that the death toll was about 2,000.
The ambassador, Ali Suleiman Aujali, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer the figure is based on information from Tripoli and telephone calls. He described Gadhafi's regime as "very cruel."
"I think we realize that he's crazy," said Aujali, who has worked as a diplomat for Gadhafi for 40 years. "But we have no alternative. We have no ways to get rid of him until now," Aujali said, referring to protests inspired by the successful ousters of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.
In a joint interview with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour and the BBC on Monday, Gadhafi denied using force against his peoples.
"No demonstration at all in the streets," he said, speaking at a restaurant in Tripoli.
Told by the BBC's Jeremy Bowen that he had seen demonstrators in the streets that morning, Gadhafi asked, "Are they supporting us?"
"They love me, all my people with me, they love me all. They will die to protect me, my people," he said.
Soon after Gadhafi's interview, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the Libyan strongman sounded "delusional."
"And when he can laugh in talking to American and international journalists while he is slaughtering his own people, it only underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality," she said.
A witness in Misrata, who is not being identified for security reasons, said Gadhafi's claims are inconsistent and nonsensical.
"Gadhafi has been making all kinds of things ... at one moment, he's saying that all of the Libyan people are taking hallucinogens. Another moment he's saying that we're all members of al Qaeda and that we're extremist Muslims. He's all over the place," she said.
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"Libyans are not members of al Qaeda -- that's absolutely ridiculous. And not everyone's on drugs here. We're fighting for our basic rights -- the right to freedom, the right to education, the right to health care, the right to clean water. The right to -- just basic human rights, and that we will continue to fight until this regime falls."
Gadhafi's regime has lost control of parts of the country to rebel forces, and with each passing day more Libyan officials around the world have defected, joining calls for his ouster.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 5:11 AM