Muammar al-Qadhafi, the leader of Libya, has said that he will not let anyone "steal power from the people" and has urged supporters to "kill enemies" who call for political change.
The veteran leader's comments on Thursday, the eve of the 37th anniversary of the coup that overthrew the monarchy, will come as a disappointment to international observers who felt he may use the occasion to promote political change.
"When we led the revolution we did not want power for ourselves, but we assumed it for the people," al-Qadhafi said in a two-hour speech to top leaders at Al-Baida, 1,200km east of Tripoli.
"In consequence, we will not allow anyone to steal it from the people."
Al-Qadhafi's increasingly influential son, Saif al-Islam, recently told Libyans their country was in a political impasse and needed reforms to free it from what he called the grip of a "Libyan mafia" which monopolises power and wealth.
Saif lamented the fact that there was no "people power" in Libya as called for by the Green Book penned by his father 30 years ago, which spells out al-Qadhafi's political ideology.
The oil companies "are controlled by foreigners and they have made millions from them. Now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money", he said.
The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the petroleum sector, which contributes practically all export earnings and about one-quarter of GDP.
In an indictment of the state of Libyan society and its economy, Saif had said: "Let's stop kidding ourselves that we are living in a paradise, one in which public sector officials act as though they own the companies they manage.
"The beneficiaries of this chaos are a group of state employees and big wigs united in an unholy alliance resembling a mafia."
"Our enemies have been crushed inside Libya and you have to be ready to kill them if they emerge anew"
With unemployment running at about 13 per cent last year, and half the population under the age of 20, Libya is in need of investment to stimulate growth.
According to a recent official report, only $38 billion of the $50 billion earmarked for development projects between 1970 and 2003 had been spent.
Change ruled out
But al-Qadhafi said those who hope for political change in Libya inherently see its people as "ignorant and immature".
He said: "Our enemies have been crushed inside Libya and you have to be ready to kill them if they emerge anew."
Al-Qadhafi also called on Libyans to make their country more prosperous.
He said: "We have to set money aside to make the 1.1million relatively poor Libyans rich."
He proposed that poor Libyans set up oil services companies to replace foreign firms in the country.
"Foreign services companies working in Libya earn millions. Why do we not earn these millions which currently go to foreigners?"