RABAT (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said neighbouring Tunisia is suffering bloodshed and lawlessness because its people were in too much of a rush to get rid of their president.
Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisian leader for 23 years, was forced to step down after weeks of protests. His overthrow has reverberated around other countries in the Arab world with long-serving leaders.
“I am very pained by what is happening in Tunisia,” Gaddafi said in a speech reported by Libya’s official Jana news agency.
“Tunisia now lives in fear ... Families could be raided and slaughtered in their bedrooms and the citizens in the street killed as if it was the Bolshevik or the American revolution,” said Gaddafi, Libya’s leader since 1969.
“What is this for? To change Zine al-Abidine? Hasn’t he told you he would step down after three years? Be patient for three years and your son stays alive,” Gaddafi said.
In a last-ditch concession to try to appease the protesters, Ben Ali had said he would not seek re-election when his term ended in 2014.
Dozens of people were killed in clashes with police before Ben Ali stepped down, and since then the country’s new leaders have struggled to contain looting and lawlessness which on Saturday killed dozens more.
Gaddafi said the turmoil would only be justified if Tunisia adopts his model of rule — known as the Third Universal Theory — which replaces representative democracy with direct rule by the people through institutions called popular committees.
He said this model “marks the final destination for the peoples’ quest for democracy. If this is what the events (in Tunisia) are for, then it has to be made clear”.