Could Robert Mugabe be Col Gaddafi’s last hope?
And if Zimbabwe’s troops troops can’t save him, he can always retire to dictator-friendly Harare
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the embattled Libyan leader, may soon be forced to turn to his very last friend, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, as he considers his final options.
Several major cities, including Benghazi, have been taken over by anti-government protesters. The capital, Tripoli, remains under his control for now.
The global reaction to the violent suppression of pro-democracy protests in the African nation has been one of unanimous condemnation. The UN has moved to impose travel and asset sanctions on the country, and the Security Council is for once was in agreement in recommending that Gaddafi be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.
"All of this sends a clear message to this regime," said US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. "It is time for Colonel Gaddafi to go and to go now. There is no future for Libya that includes him."
Even Tony Blair weighed in. Speaking to the Times from Jerusalem, he revealed that he had spoken personally to Gaddafi twice on Friday evening, telling him it was time to make way for a transitional government.
But the former prime minister must have lost his touch since that famously photographed handshake with Gaddafi in 2004, which made Britain one of the first Western countries to normalise relations with Libya, and paved the way for numerous arms, oil and other trade deals.
Gaddafi, it seems, merely responded to Blair’s pleas by repeating that he would stay in his country and die there. Blair said that the 68-year-old dictator was "in denial".
But there is one man Gaddafi can continue to count on. Robert Mugabe is reported to have sent several hundred Zimbabwean soldiers to stem the protests, which are threatening to plunge Libya into civil war.
Jon Swain, writing in the Sunday Times, said the troops were sent on a chartered plane early last Tuesday morning. They were apparently a mix of retired officers and troops from the Fifth Brigade, the notorious North Korean-trained group which assisted in the crushing of a rebellion in Matabeleland in the 1980s, when around 20,000 civilians were killed.
British government officials are apparently aware of the deal. According to the Sunday Times, they believe that Gaddafi would be most likely to seek refuge in Zimbabwe, once the end is upon him.
It's certainly no Sharm el-Sheikh, but at least the Libyan would feel at home: Zimbabwe is home to several other belligerent African former leaders.
Former Ethiopian leader Mengistu Mariam lives just outside the capital of Harare, whilst Protais Mpiranya, a Rwandan army officer accused of ordering the murder of then prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, is rumoured to be hiding in the country. Both are wanted for crimes against humanity. ·
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