23 Feb 2011

Defiant Gaddafi urges Libyans to chase protesters

11:07 pm on 23 February 2011

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has called on his supporters to go out onto the streets and attack what he calls the cockroaches demonstrating against his rule.

In a televised address he refused to resign and urged loyal Libyans to chase anti-government protesters and hand them over to the security forces.

He says anyone who takes up arms against Libya will be executed.

Human rights groups say nearly 300 people have been killed in Libya since last week, as protesters calling for Colonel Gaddafi's resignation clash with his supporters.

In his first speech since the unrest began, the BBC reports, a defiant and angry Colonel Gaddafi said he had brought glory to Libya, and as he had no official position from which to resign, he would remain the head of the revolution.

The protesters had been given drink and drugs, he said, frequently shouting and banging his fist on the table.

He called on "those who love Muammar Gaddafi" to come on to the streets in support of him, telling them not to be afraid of the "gangs".

"Come out of your homes, attack them in their dens, withdraw your children from the streets. They are drugging your children, they are making your children drunk and sending them to hell."

Shortly after Colonel Gaddafi ended his speech the sound of guns being fired into the air were heard in the streets of Tripoli.

UN condemns crackdown

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the Libyan authorities for using force against protesters, calling for those responsible to be held to account.

In a statement, the council demanded an immediate end to the violence and said Libya's rulers had to "address the legitimate demands of the population".

Security Council members are alarmed at the prospect of extreme violence and European nations are alarmed at the prospect of refugees spilling over their border.

Meanwhile, Peru says it has suspended diplomatic relations with Libya over its use of force against civilians.

It's the first country to take such a step since the anti-government protests in Libya erupted.

However, Libya's traditional allies in the region, Cuba and Venezuela, have urged what they call imperialist states to stop interfering.

The United States says it has hired a ferry to evacuate Americans caught up in the violence in Libya.

China is sending an aircraft and ships to help evacuate more than 30,000 Chinese citizens.

Senior minister resigns

The Interior Minister, Abdul Fatah Younis later announced his resignation and called on the armed forces to join the uprising against Colonel Gaddafi.

He's the latest in a series of high-level officials and diplomats to abandon the government.

No major reforms announced

State television had said Colonel Gaddafi would announce "major reforms" in his speech but the only such reference was to some devolution of power to local authorities.

He warned that Libya could descend into civil war or be occupied by the United States if protests continued.