August 23, 2011 / 8:14 PM / 8 years ago

Venezuela's Chavez says Gaddafi still Libya's leader

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday he will only recognise a Libyan government led by his friend and ally Muammar Gaddafi and accused the United States of inciting the country’s civil war.

Chavez, who has been the most vocal world leader to support Gaddafi, accused Western powers of riding roughshod over international law by backing Libya’s rebels in their revolt.

“This is kicking, spitting ... on the most basic elements of international law,” he said. “Where are the international rights? This is like the caveman era.”

Venezuela’s socialist leader spoke after rebels overran Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli in what appeared to be the end of his 42-year rule.

During six months of civil war more than 30 countries, including the United States and major European Union countries, have moved to recognise the rebel National Transitional Council as the governing authority in Libya.

“Now (U.S. President Barack) Obama said he will collaborate economically with the new government, which of course we do not recognise,” Chavez said.

“We only recognise one government, the one led by Muammar Gaddafi,” he said to applause as he presided over a cabinet meeting broadcast live on state TV.

The 57-year-old former soldier has repeatedly accused Western powers of fuelling the conflict to steal Libya’s oil and on Tuesday said they were waging a “dogs’ war.”

“It’s harsh but true ... They arranged this war,” Chavez said, referring to the United States.

“They provided the arms, the mercenaries. They better not attempt to apply the Libyan formula to Venezuela or we’ll have to show them our power.”

Both Chavez and Gaddafi are military men who cast themselves as anti-imperialist revolutionaries and forged a friendship during half a dozen encounters in the past decade.

They have enjoyed a long-standing alliance based on left-wing economic ideas, antagonistic relations with the United States, and their countries’ membership in OPEC.

Chavez studied Gaddafi’s “Green Book” outlining his political philosophy while in the army, and both men have given each other numerous gifts and awards.

Back in March, the Venezuelan leader proposed a vague peace plan for Libya that received little support from either side.

Some media reports have suggested Gaddafi, whose whereabouts remain unknown, could seek asylum in Venezuela but Chavez made no reference to that.

Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott

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