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Vol 50 No 19

Published 25th September 2009


Libya

A new diplomatic deal after four decades in power

Forty years after his El Fatah Revolution, Libyan leader Colonel Moammar el Gadaffi gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September with a meandering, 94-minute speech from which Western leaders made sure they absented themselves. The upset caused by the homecoming celebration for Abdelbaset al Megrahi, convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, showed that Gadaffi's diplomatic rehabilitation was far from complete, despite his regime's abandoning its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 and reopening its oil industry to foreign investors.

Sporting a rust-brown robe and a black cap, Moammar el Gadaffi opened his address to the General Assembly with a greeting to 'our son Obama' on behalf of the 1,000 African kings he claims to represent. 'We are happy and content if Obama stays for ever as President,' said Gadaffi, to the embarrassment of the remaining United States delegates in the hall. Washington's diplomats went to extraordinary lengths to prevent any chance encounter between President Barack Obama and Gadaffi, whose association with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 still provokes furious protests in the USA. New York City Council barred him from pitching his tent and demonstrators hurled abuse at his entourage outside UN headquarters.

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