TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Muammar Gaddafi criticised on Saturday the popular uprising in neighbouring Egypt that forced Hosni Mubarak from power this year as the Libyan leader battles rebels who have claimed swathes of the country.
Gaddafi, who has stayed in power despite four months of NATO-led air strikes and a rebel campaign against his 41-year rule, questioned the value of the popular movements in Egypt, and in Libya’s western neighbour, Tunisia.
“Why did you undertake the revolution? Answer me, why did you undertake the revolution?” Gaddafi said in an audio address to Egyptians on the anniversary of the 1952 coup that ended Egypt’s monarchy and paved the way for the late Gamal Abdel Nasser to take power.
“Tunisia and Egypt, what did you accomplish with these revolutions? Substitution of one government regime for another?” asked Gaddafi, who came to power in a 1969 coup inspired by Nasser’s pan-Arab ideals.
“After you looted, destroyed and damaged the country, you want a new president?”
Gaddafi defended Mubarak, hospitalised since April and due to stand trial on charges of abuse of power and killing protestors, and suggested Egyptians had been hasty in pushing him from power without a clear alternative.
Scores of people were injured in Cairo on Saturday when thousands of demonstrators fought opponents with stones on their march to the Defence Ministry to urge their military rulers to speed up reforms.
“Hosni Mubarak should be honoured — it would have even been better if he had remained president of Egypt,” Gaddafi said.