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Gaddafi: "My People Love Me"

Callie Schweitzer |
February 28, 2011 | 6:23 p.m. PST


Embattled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi said Monday he has no plans to leave his war-torn country where thousands of protesters have been trying to up-end his 41-year rule in an 11-day revolt, declaring, “My people love me.”

"They love me," Gaddafi said in an interview with the BBC, the Sunday Times of London and ABC News at a restaurant in Tripoli on Monday. "All my people with me, they love me. They will die to protect me, my people."

Meantime, the U.S. appears poised to enter the country militarily and has moved its naval and air forces closer to the area.

"Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to govern, and it is time for him to go without further violence or delay," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "No option is off the table. That of course includes a no-fly zone."

The AP reports, "France said it would fly aid to the opposition-controlled eastern half of the country. The European Union imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions, following the lead of the U.S. and the U.N. The EU was also considering the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya."

When asked by ABC News' Christiane Amanpour if he would leave Libya, Gaddafi laughed and said, "Would anyone leave his homeland? Why would I leave Libya?"

He was adamant that he was not president, but instead one of the people, saying that Libya is ruled by the people and he is one of them.

He went on to deny the existence of protests and the use of force against his people.

"No demonstration at all in the streets," he said.

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen told Gaddafi he had personally seen demonstrators in Zawiya that day, to which Gaddafi replied, "Are they supporting us?"

When Bowen said some were and some were not, Gaddafi replied, "No, no-one against us. Against me for what?"

In a reporter's notebook on ABCNews.com, Amanpour writes that Gaddaffi arrived in a small convoy of sedans with minimal security and "seemed relaxed and focused."

Marie Colvin, correspondent for the Sunday Times, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Gaddafi probably hoped to dispel rumors that he had left Libya.

“He was very much making it clear that ‘I am here, I’m in Libya,’” she said noting that this was the first time she’s interviewed him in “any kind of setting with a window.”

The leader spent more than an hour with the journalists "trying to put forth his side of the story."

Amanpour wrote:

He invited the United Nations and any other organization to come to Libya and do a "fact finding mission" and questioned how they could freeze assets, impose sanctions and an arms embargo, and implement a travel ban based purely on media reports alone.


He seemed to be in complete denial about the protests against him, and that other big cities in Libya, particularly those in the east, had been taken by his opponents.

He simply rejected the notion that any walls were closing in on him. He denied he was besieged in the capital and said he would survive the current situation.

In an excerpt from the interview posted on the BBC News website, Gaddafi blamed al-Qaeda for the actions in the streets and reiterated his belief that young people have been given hallucinogenic drugs that are now starting to wear off.

Christiane Amanpour: "If you say they do love you, then why are they capturing Benghazi and saying they're against you?"

Gaddafi: "It's al-Qaeda. It's not my people. They came from outside."

Bowen: "So they're the people pulling down the posters and putting up the flag of the king?"

Gaddafi: "It's al-Qaeda, they went into military bases and seized arms and they're terrorising the people. The people who had the weapons were youngsters. They're starting to lay down their weapons now, as the drugs al-Qaeda gave them wear off."

Gaddafi said westerners "don't understand the system here."

In response to Gaddafi's interview, Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice called the Libyan leader "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.

Rice announced the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions against Libya on Monday and called for him to step down.

After the council’s vote Saturday, Libya's deputy U.N. ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi said, "This is a leader who loves nobody but himself and he is prepared to take all necessary steps in order to continue this repression against his own people."

The Treasury Department announced Monday that the U.S. has frozen $30 billion in Libyan assets.

Media reports from the last 11 days have shown widespread violence and unrest across Libya where pro-Gaddafi forces have killed opposition forces trying to take control of various cities in the country.

As of Monday evening, the country remained in a standstill with Gaddafi loyalists continuing to fight Gaddafi opponents.

To reach editor-in-chief Callie Schweitzer, click here.
To follow her on Twitter: @cschweitz



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