Libyan state TV aired footage today of a defiant Colonel Muammar Gaddafi addressing supporters at his Tripoli residence and vowing to fight on.
“Gaddafi is with his people,” he said, describing the UN military intervention as “unjust aggression”.
“I am not afraid of any problems and threats. I’m not afraid of planes that hover over our head. I’m standing here to fight them, I am here, I am here.”
It was not immediately clear when the footage was shot.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has launched a strong defence of the air strikes on Muammar Gaddafi’s forces which face growing criticism from doubters led by Russia and China.
Raising the spectre of past failures to halt genocide in Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia, Mr Ban said that even China and Russia must comply with the Security Council resolution that approved the air attacks being carried out by France, Britain and United States.
At a press conference in Tunis, capital of the country which set off the North African turmoil, the UN secretary general said: “Colonel Gaddafi, he cannot and should not and must not fight alone” against the international community.
Mr Ban hailed Resolution 1973, passed on Thursday, saying it “significantly advances an emerging humanitarian doctrine: the responsibility to protect.
“Out of the terrible massacres of the previous decades in which the international community had been accused of doing nothing – those massacres included the genocide in Srebenica, Rwanda and Cambodia – after those terrible incidents, the world said never again.
“It is imperative that on this measure the international community speak with one voice.
“Thousands of lives are still at stake,” he declared, adding that countries “are moving quickly to take effective action” and stressing the support of the Arab League for the resolution.
It is “absolutely necessary to fully comply with Security Council resolutions”, Mr Ban said.
Asked specifically about Russia’s complaints about the air attacks, Mr Ban again said that once Resolution 1973 was passed all countries must follow it.
“Of course there were some countries who abstained, but once it is adopted all the countries of the United Nations have an obligation to fully cooperate so that this resolution could be implemented,” Mr Ban said.
In talks yesterday with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev voiced dismay over what he called the “indiscriminate use of force” by coalition aircraft in Libya.
Earlier, Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov called for an immediate ceasefire and accused coalition forces of killing civilians. Seryukov said he had told Mr Gates of Russia’s “opposition” to the way the resolution is being implemented.
China, another of the five countries on the 15-nation Security Council to abstain, has also voiced concern. “We oppose the use of force that could result in more civilian casualties and a greater humanitarian crisis,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said in Beijing yesterday.
Germany and India, other members of the five, have also maintained their doubts.
But Mr Ban, who just before the press conference met the family of the Tunisian fruit seller whose death after setting fire to himself as a protest set off the turmoil across North Africa, said the region was now at a “historic” moment.
“Democracy is on the march across the Arab world. It is in the interest of the international community and the United Nations to help you on your way.” Agencies