Tripoli/London, Feb 24 (IANS) A defiant Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Thursday warned of chaos if anti-government protests continued in the country and accused Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden of “duping young people” into participating in the violent demonstrations.
In a phone-in to state TV, the embattled leader warned Libyans that protests will lead to chaos in the country, Xinhua said citing an Al Arabiya TV report.
“If you want to live in this chaos, it’s up to you,” he said, adding that he felt sorry for those who got killed in the clashes.
According to BBC, Gaddafi said that young people were being duped with drugs and alcohol to take part in “destruction and sabotage”.
In the phone call from the town of Al Zawiya, broadcast live on TV, Gaddafi said the protesters had no genuine demands and were being dictated to by the Al Qaeda leader.
The telephone call was said to be an address to the people of Al Zawiya, 50 km west of the capital, where there has been renewed gunfire reported in the streets.
“Bin Laden… this is the enemy who is manipulating people. Do not be swayed by bin Laden,” he said.
“It is obvious now that this issue is run by Al Qaeda. Those armed youngsters, our children, are incited by people who are wanted by America and the Western world.
“Those inciting are very few in numbers and we have to capture them.”
The protests against Gaddafi’s 41-year rule began after mass demonstrations forced Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power Feb 11, and one month after demonstrators across the border in Tunisia toppled their longtime leader, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
Gaddafi said that Libya was not like Egypt and Tunisia, which have seen their leaders deposed, because the people of Libya had it in their own hands to change their lives through committees.
The Libyan leader said he only has “moral authority” in Libya. “I don’t have the power to issue laws. The authority is at the hands of the people,” he told the official TV.
He urged families to rein in their sons, saying many of the protesters were underage and beyond the reach of the law.
He also vowed that those carrying out violent protests would be put on trial.
This was Gaddafi’s second live TV appearance since the protests erupted Feb 14.
On Tuesday, he said he would die a martyr in Libya and fight to the “last drop” of his blood.
Meanwhile, opposition politicians and tribal leaders have held a key meeting in the eastern town of Al Bayda to show a united front against Gaddafi.