COLONEL Gaddafi yesterday vowed to “die as a martyr” and urged his supporters to attack his enemies as he clung to the vestiges of power.
The despot said he would never flee Libya, saying he will “fight to my last drop of blood”.
Following the leader’s speech, Tripoli residents reported heavy machine-gun battles in the capital’s centre as Libya appeared close to all-out civil war.
The events threw Libya’s oil economy – the first major oil producing Middle East state to be affected by the wave of revolts – into turmoil. Libya’s ports – including Zawia, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misurat – have been closed, traders in the country said. Crude output from the country has fallen by at least a fifth this week and foreign oil companies, including Italy’s Eni SpA and Spain’s Repsol YPF, said they had suspended production in the region. Oil prices continued to rise yesterday with Brent crude oil futures surging to $106.47, despite Saudi Arabia saying it could meet any shortage in supply.
Markets across the world also continued to suffer with the FTSE 100 crashing below the psychologically important 6,000 level to 5,996.76 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 1.4 per cent to 12,212.79 – its lowest level since August.
Gaddafi however crushed any hopes that he would stand aside to prevent more bloodshed, saying: “If I were president, I would have resigned, but I have no position to resign from.”
He blamed the protests sweeping Libya, which have taken control of the major cities, on the influence of foreign forces. He said a small number of “sick” agitators had tempted Libya’s youth with “drugs and money,” branding his enemies “rats”. He said: “You men and women who love Gaddafi, get out of your homes and fill the streets. Leave your homes and attack them in their lairs. The police cordons will be lifted, go out and fight them.”
David Cameron called Gaddafi’s actions “completely unacceptable”, while German chancellor Angela Merkel described his speech as “very frightening” and said he had virtually declared war on his own people.