Showing his own flaky grasp of reality, and time, and a taste for conspiracy theories — from Martin Luther King‘s death to the military origins of swine flu — the Libyan leader hit accurately at the weakest points of the US and the UN, laying down challenges that may sting after yesterday’s farce is forgotten.
There were gasps of horror as, 75 minutes past the end of his allotted slot, he tossed a copy of the UN Charter disdainfully at Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary-General, on the panel above him. But there was also sympathetic laughter, and applause.
Yesterday’s parade of world leaders should have been dominated by Obama, making his first speech to the UN.
But Gadaffi, on his first visit to the US, in honour of Libya‘s election to the presidency of the General Assembly, made it a clash of philosophy, charisma and stamina.
It didn’t start well. Gadaffi, facing a hall of people who had woken to the headline “Tent Flap” about a planning department’s objection to his tent, stood almost frozen at the podium, face unhealthily pale, hair too black, resembling Michael Jackson in desert robes.
He fished out the copy of the UN Charter, waving it like the Green Book of his collected writings. Slicing the air with his hand, he denounced the capitalist economic crisis, raising the first laughter of the General Assembly.
He went straight for the UN’s weak points. The dominance of the Security Council by the great powers after the Second World War meant “it should be called the terror council”, he said. There was laughter, a pause, then sustained applause.
He called for a G100, a group to include smaller countries, denouncing the G8 and the G20. Then, in a wildly veering passage, but which struck a chord, he called for the UN to be moved from New York, challenging the US’s right to host it after 64 years.
As Gadaffi veered through a list of the world’s villains and his solutions he was handed a note saying, presumably, stop.
– Bronwen Maddox
Telegraph version below
He demanded $7.77 trillion for Africa and reform of the global body, which he described as a “terrorist” organisation.
Paying his first-ever visit to the annual UN General Assembly, the Libyan leader was introduced to the audience of world leaders by the title “King of Kings” as he took the podium after US President Barack Obama.
Sporting a sand-hued tribal robe with an oversized lapel pin in the shape of Africa, Gaddafi flagrantly defied orders by the General Assembly’s chair – a fellow Libyan – to speak for 15 minutes and rambled on for more than an hour.
Gadaffi, who said he was speaking “in the name of 1,000 African kingdoms,” demanded compensation from the West for colonisation of the continent and provided a precise figure.
“$7.77 trillion – that is the compensation the Africans deserve from the countries that colonised Africa,” he said, who briefly put on a translation headset before giving up.
“The Africans will call for that and if you don’t give that amount – 7.77 trillion – the Africans will go to where you have taken these trillions. They have the right and they will bring the money back,” he said.
Gadaffi also demanded fundamental changes to the United Nations, likening the General Assembly to the famed Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park where people of all stripes are free to vent.
He denounced the Security Council – where five nations have veto power – for its monopoly on the right to declare when matters pose a threat to international security, saying it amounted to “terrorism”.
He criticised the UN for failing to prevent “65 wars since the body was founded in 1945”.
“Superpowers have interests and they use the power of the United Nations to protect their interests. The Third World is terrified and being terrorised and living in fear,” he said.
Gaddafi, long a pariah, has been reconciling with the West after renouncing Libya’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in 2003