Gaddafi: Libya is ruled by its people; I cannot resign

Libyan leader denies protests in the east, compares rebels to "Israeli tanks in Gaza," calls on UN and NATO to "set up fact-finding committees" on a "conspiracy to control Libyan oil and its land."

Gaddafi 311 reuters (photo credit: reuters)
Gaddafi 311 reuters
(photo credit: reuters)
TRIPOLI - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Wednesday the world did not understand the Libyan system that puts power in the hands of the people.
"We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people," he told an applauding audience shown on Libyan television, referring to his system of "direct democracy" which he outlined in his Green Book political manifesto.
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Gaddafi, who has lost swathes of his country to rebels, said that he was not a president and so could not resign his position, and said there were no internal problems in Libya.
"Muammar Gaddafi is not a president to resign, he does not even have a parliament to dissolve,"he said in a speech, adding that he held "no position from which to step down."
"The Libyan system is a system of the people and no one can go against the authority of the people. .. The people are free to chose the authority they see fit," he said.
Gaddafi dismissed news accounts of protests in Libya, blamed unrest on al Qaida, and said reports of deaths were exaggerated, suggesting only 150 people had died.
Foreign estimates suggest 2,000 may have died.
"There were no protests at all in the east," he said in a speech.
"Al Qaida's cells attacked security forces and took over their weapons," he said, adding: "How did that all begin? Small, sleeper al Qaida cells."
Gaddafi said that "like Israeli tanks moving non-stop in Gaza, [the rebels] killed our forces."
During his speech one woman interrupted and shouted: "How can you go? You will not go and you will never leave! You are all that is good!... You are a sword that does not bend!"
Gaddafi also called for the United Nations and NATO to investigate the facts about what had happened in Libya, and said 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 in a speech.
He urged the United Nations and NATO to "set up fact-finding committees" to find out how people were killed, adding that he saw a "conspiracy to control Libyan oil and its land."
Also on Wednesday, forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi seized the eastern Libyan oil export terminal of Marsa el Brega, rebel officers in the region told Reuters, the first indication of a concerted fight back by the Libyan leader in the rebel-controlled east.
Later, rebels took back control Brega and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi staged a "hit and run" attack on the nearby town of Ajdabiyah, a rebel coalition spokesman said.
Arab foreign ministers called on the Libyan leadership to take "brave" decisions to stop violence and respect the "legitimate rights" of the people.
Arab League Secretary General Amr
Moussa said the situation in Libya was "tragic" and
"we cannot accept it."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, presiding over the opening session of the Arab League meeting in Cairo, also said the Libya crisis was an internal Arab affair, stressing that the Arabs did not want any "foreign intervention."
He then called on the ministers to stand in silence in memory of Arabs killed in a wave of pro-reform protests across the region.
"The Arab League, at the level of permanent delegates, on Tuesday introduced a resolution to be submitted to the ministers of foreign affairs during their meeting ... to reject any foreign military intervention in Libya," Ambassador Ahmed Ben Helli, deputy secretary general of the Arab League, said.