Gaddafi releases defiant message from hiding

Deposed Libyan leader says political system he implemented based on "power of the people" cannot be removed, NATO bombs "will not last."

By REUTERS
September 20, 2011 13:43
1 minute read.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's location unknown

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files)

CAIRO - Libya's deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi said the system of rule he set up was based on the people's will and could not be removed, speaking in a recorded message broadcast on Tuesday.

In the audio message carried by Syrian-based Arrai television, he also said NATO's planes would not be able to continue their operations in Libya.

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"The political system in Libya is a system based on the power of the people ... and it is impossible that this system be removed," he said. "The bombs of NATO planes will not last."

Gaddafi's whereabouts remained unknown as Libya's interim government fought for control of the deposed leader's last strongholds.

The National Transitional Council on Monday said its forces seized the airport and fort in Sabha, in control of forces loyal to Gaddafi.

"Our forces are there in the airport and in the castle ... Our flags are flying there," Ahmed Bani, a military spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC), told a news conference in Tripoli on Monday. It was not possible to get independent confirmation.

Sabha, 770 km (480 miles) south of Tripoli and overlooked by an old fort built by Libya's former Italian colonial rulers, controls the main trail south to neighboring Niger, an escape route used by members of Gaddafi's entourage.

Any advance on the town would be an important boost for government forces who have struggled to contain disunity in their ranks and faced stark reversals on other parts of the battlefield.

Nearly a month after Gaddafi was driven from power, his loyalist holdouts have beaten back repeated assaults by NTC forces at Bani Walid and Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace. NTC fighters have been sent fleeing in disarray after failing to storm Gaddafi bastions.

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