The Libyan air force bombs Brega as fighting between pro-Gaddafi forces and opponents continues.
Gaddafi said that the world did not understand the Libyan system that puts power in the hands of the people
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has said that he is not a president and so cannot resign his position, and that power is in the hands of the people, during a televised public rally in the capital, Tripoli.
“Muammar Gaddafi is not a president to resign, he does not even have a parliament to dissolve,” Gaddafi said on Wednesday, his third public appearance since the uprising, surrounded by dozens of supporters in a large ballroom for a ceremony to mark 34 years of “people power”.
“Attacks on me are seen by Libyan people as attacks on their symbol and dignity.
“The foreigners want Gaddafi to step down, to step down from what? Gaddafi is just a symbol for the Libyan people… This is how the Libyan people understood it.”
He said that the world did not understand the Libyan system that puts power in the hands of the people.
“The people are free to chose the authority they see fit,” he said.
“We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people,” he said, referring to his system of “direct democracy” which he outlined in his Green Book political manifesto, launched in 1977.
“I have always said that the Libyan people are free [in managing their own business].”
He did however announce that he was willing to discuss constitutional and legal change without armed conflict or chaos.
Gaddafi added there were no protests in the second largest city, Benghazi, Derna, or the eastern town of al-Baida … that it all started with sleeper cells taking over weapons and security stations.
He said that terrorists released prisioners from jails and included them in their forces.
“These are criminals not political prisioners … there are no political prisioners in Libya … We had to destroy the weapons storages to prevent them from falling into the hands of the terrorists.
He repeated his claim that al-Qaeda was behind the popular uprising against his 41-year rule and promised to fight to the last man and woman.
“Sleeper cells from al-Qaeda, its elements, infiltrated gradually … Suddenly it started in al-Baida… The sleeping cell was told to attack the battalion … and it took arms from police stations.
“The soldiers went home and left their battalion” while the al-Qaeda cells “took the weapons and control of the town. It was the same situation in Benghazi,” whcih is under the control of the rebel forces.
But he said “we will fight to the end, to the last man, the last woman … with God’s help.”
Gaddafi said in a previous speech that protesters were brainwashed by Osama bin Laden and had their milk and coffee spiked with hallucinogenic drugs.
Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Benghazi, said that Gaddafi’s claim that al-Qaeda is behind the unrest will have some resonance in the West.
Amid continued tensions, the Libyan leader also reiterated oil fields in the country were safe but added that foreign companies were concerned of “gangsters”.
He added that if Western companies choose to leave, they will be replaced with “Indian and Chinese companies”.
Gaddafi also called for the United Nations and NATO to investigate what had happened in Libya, saying that he saw a conspiracy to colonise Libya and seize its oil.
“I dare you to find that peaceful protesters were killed. In America, France, and everywhere, if people attacked military
stores and tried to steal weapons, they will shoot them,” he said.
He urged the United Nations and NATO to “set up fact-finding committees” to find out how people were killed.
However, he also warned that if the United States or other foreign powers entered Libya they would face a bloody war.
Nouri al-Masmari, the former head of the Libyan protocol department has reiterated his stance that Gaddafi would not concede power voluntarily, would not leave for any foreign country and would continue sticking to his position till the end.
Speaking at a press conference he held in the French capital Paris, he also pointed out that Libyan anti-government forces were aiming to neutralise the pro-Gaddafi air force, while rejecting any international military intervention by land.
“We are strong enough, we do have arms, since most of the army had joined the revolution. Gaddafi has only the security guards around him,” he said.
“Those around Gaddafi were not forced to remain there. They chose to remain there on their own will. If Gaddafi stepped down, they will be losers, as they had committed many crimes, killed many people, misused their power and had grabbed wealth, houses and villas for themselves. I do not think they would be forgiven.”