Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gaddafi defends Somali pirates

Libya's President Muammar Gaddafi (left) shakes hands with delegates during the opening session of the 12th African Union Summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa February 2, 2009. Photo/REUTERS

Libya's President Muammar Gaddafi (left) shakes hands with delegates during the opening session of the 12th African Union Summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa February 2, 2009. Photo/REUTERS 

By ARGAW ASHINE, NATION Correspondent,

Addis Ababa, Thursday

AU chairman Muammar Gaddafi has said that his priority will be to claim colonial compensation and to limit the power of Western nations

The Libyan leader further said he believed that piracy was a way of counter defence against the greedy Western nations.

Col Gaddafi expressed the sentiments Thursday morning when he paid his first day official visit to African Union head quarter in Addis Ababa. He addressed AU officials and staff.

Col Gaddafi wore a colourful shirt decorated with Africa Union founding fathers portraits including Tanzanian Julius Nyerere, Ethiopian Haile Selassie, Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta, and Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah.

During the inaugural tour, Col Gaddafi revealed his plan for the next seasons, saying he doesn’t believe that Somalia piracy was a crime.

“It is a response to greedy Western nations, who invade and exploit Somalia’s water resources illegally,’’ he said.

“It is not a piracy, it is self defence. It is defending the Somalia children’s food,” Col Gaddafi argued.

He pointed out that some countries, particularly Western nations, were penetrating into a Somalia’s sovereign water territory, against the international law .

European, the US and China fleets are entering in the sovereign Somalia territory, because Africa doesn’t have strong and modern defence to push them back, Col Gaddafi said.

Nowadays, Somalis are reacting for justice and trying to defend their country against the unfair exploitation of resources, but Western countries have labelled it as piracy, Gaddafi explained.

The long-serving Libyan leader said he planned to convince other African leaders to claim compensation from colonial masters for their crimes and exploitation during the colonial era.

He disclosed that Libya will this week be claiming quarter billion dollars per year for the next 20 years compensation from Italy.

He said it was a time to ask Western world to pay for Africa’s past suffering and exploitation.

Italian parliament has agreed to pay the money to Libya, he said

Col Gaddafi has refused any invitation from Italy for official visit for the past 40 years as part of his protest and claim.

During my term in AU, I will initiate an organised compensation claim for Africa and I will fight for a greater voice for Africa in the United Nations Security Council.

“If they (Western nations) do not want to live with us fairly, it is our planet and they can go to other planet,” Gaddafi added.

Earlier Col Gaddafi asked for the support and ‘wisdom’ of Tanzanian president Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, his predecessor, on how to handle the 53-member group’s day-to- day affairs. 

Col Gaddafi, who was elected on Monday as a chairman of AU for the next one year, said as the group’s 12th summit ended: “I need the support of my son Kikwete from his wide experience on how to handle AU issues.’’

President Kikwete, who retired from the chairmanship of the AU on Monday, headed the group at one of the most turbulent times during which he played a key role in mediating an end to the post-election violence in Kenya and the election dispute in Zimbabwe.

Had been picked

At the same time, Colonel Gaddafi said he would also seek the advice of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on how to deal with the continent’s matters. Col Gaddafi said that Obasanjo was in Addis to meet him.

Earlier, AU chairman Jean Ping said former South African president Thabo Mbeki had been picked by the AU to coordinate its legal matters like the threatened ICC indictment against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. 

At the press conference, Mr Ping was asked by journalists about his impression about the capability of Col Gaddafi, who took power through a coup close to 40 years ago, to lead a continent where coups are rampant.

Mr Ping said Col Gaddafi was “Elected democratically representing North Africa and it’s a decision of the assembly” .

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