Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reuters: Defiant Gaddafi vows to die as martyr

Defiant Gaddafi vows to die as martyr
Talking Points Memo

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Tuesday he would not step down despite a nationwide revolt against his rule, vowing to die in Libya as a martyr while threatening to quash protests.

Facing the greatest challenge to his 41-year rule and losing control of parts of the country, Gaddafi called protesters "rats and mercenaries" who wanted to turn Libya into an Islamic state.

"I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr," Gaddafi said in a defiant speech on state television.

"Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of the revolution, I am not a president to step down ... This is my country. Muammar is not a president to leave his post, Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time."

Libya's security forces have cracked down fiercely on demonstrations across the country, with fighting spreading to Tripoli from Libya's oil-producing east in a reaction to decades of repression.

In a fiery but rambling address, apparently made in front of a building bombed by United States' war planes in 1986, said that under Libyan law the protesters deserve the death sentence.

The eastern region of Libya had broken free from Muammar Gaddafi, soldiers there said, but witnesses said tanks, warplanes and mercenaries were being used to fight the growing uprising in the capital Tripoli.

"Peaceful protests is one thing, but armed rebellion is another," he said.

Pounding his fists on a podium, Gaddafi called on people to take to the streets on Wednesday in a show of support for him.

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