Union links to Gadaffi

Alex Coke-Woods 25 October 2007

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the de facto ruler of Libya, addressed a packed debating chamber in the Cambridge Union on Monday evening via a live satellite link-up.

The Union, which describes itself as “a vibrant social and intellectual centre with a… commitment to free speech,” was filled to capacity with students eager to listen to the leader of one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Gaddafi, speaking through a translator, addressed his “dear sons” in the Cambridge Union from his headquarters in Tripoli. During a long and often rambling speech, he covered a range of topics, including his personal political philosophy, “the so-called Darfur problem,” and the UN Security Council.

“Dictatorship, it never helps peace,” said “Brother Leader” Gaddafi, as he was continually referred to by Union officials throughout the evening.

“Brother Leader” then took the opportunity to outline his own vision of “direct, popular democracy”, first expounded in his “Green Book.”

Described on the cover as “the solution to the problem of democracy,” copies of the book were being given away at the Union entrance.

Libya is currently ranked among the most oppressive regimes in the world. It was awarded the lowest possible score for civil and political liberties by independent human rights watchdog Freedom House in 2007.

Yet with the abandonment of its WMD program in 2003 and the reopening of normal diplomatic relations with the USA in 2006, the country has now begun to play a greater role on the international stage.

In 2008, Libya begins a two-year term on the UN Security Council and on Saturday October 27th it will host talks aimed at finding a solution to the conflict in Darfur.

It is estimated that 200,000 people in the region have died and 2.5 million are thought to have been displaced since February 2003.

Gaddafi, speaking on the Darfur conflict said that he considered the “so-called problem” to be first and foremost “a quarrel over a camel,” which had been politicised by international superpowers.

The USA, for its part, has described the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan as “genocide,” while the UN Security Council has mandated 17,300 peacekeeping troops to enter the country to prevent further killings.

But according to Gaddafi, the international community has ulterior motives, claiming that: “The superpowers have their imperial interests.”

He added: “Everyone wants his share in the region, especially if there is oil there.”

Gaddafi, whose regime was subjected to American air strikes in the 1980s for allegedly sponsoring paramilitary organisations, went on to lambast the UN and what he described as “the Security Council of terrorism.”

“It is not legitimate at all,” he said, criticising the veto held by the five permanent members of the Council. As a result, the current international situation is simply “the law of force which is imposed on everyone,” he concluded.

Alex Coke-Woods