Update 11am: Qaddafi addresses the nation on Libyan state television, telling his country "I will die a martyr." Al Jazeera has the live feed
From the get-go, Qaddafi began dismissing the integrity of the Libyan opposition movement, calling them "sick people" who "have taken drugs" and "attacked the police station." Showing no signs of stepping down, Qaddafi said he has "resolved the issue of power in Libya." Reacting to Qaddafi's speech, The Guardian notes that "If that is his political concession to the protesters it may not go very far in meeting their demands."
Qaddafi also promised swift retribution toward any violent protesters. "Any Libyan who lifts an arm shall be punished with the death sentence," he said. "Those who spy for other countries shall be punished with the death sentence." Digressing, Qaddafi spoke about wars with other "colonial masters," including the French and Egyptians.
Reactions to the speech have been harsh. The New York Times' Nick Kristof tweets, "#Qaddafi speech is fascinating. I hear rants like that periodically, but usually from crazy people in Times Square." Ibn Thabit tweets, "God only knows how much worse this is going to get. He's threatening to kill everyone." Shadi Hami of the Brookings Institution writes: "If there was any doubt before, there is no longer: Qaddafi has unequivocally declared intention to massacre his own ppl."
It's been a turbulent past 24 hours in Libya. As Muammar Qaddafi clings to power, his key diplomats (as well as two Air Force colonels) have begun defecting. Rumors swirled yesterday that Qaddafi had fled to Venezuela as his security forces continued opening fire on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tripoli. Then, in a bizarre effort to extinguish the rumors, Qaddafi appeared on Libyan TV holding an umbrella, sitting in a car with the door swung open. As a man reaches his microphone into Qaddafi's car, the leader speaks.
"I want to show that I'm in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs," he said. "I wanted to say something to the youths at the Green Square [in Tripoli] and stay up late with them but it started raining. Thank God, it's a good thing."
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow called it "One of the weirdest statements I have ever seen by any leader of any country in any circumstance."
In the meantime, Libya's ambassador to the United States has resigned. Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America, ambassador Ali Aujali said:
Let me start by saying that I resign from serving the current dictatorship regime, but I will never resign from serving our people until their voices reach the whole world, until their goals are achieved
In Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, protesters have largely taken over. Foreign Policy cites one resident who says citizens have organized into "informal neighborhood watch committees to ensure security." Today, a Libyan has uploaded a YouTube video showing the city "after the victory against Gaddafi":
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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