Mugabe had ‘serious’ differences with Gaddafi

HE WAS thought of as Muammar Gaddafi’s strongest ally in the world, but President Robert Mugabe had “serious differences� with the Libyan strongman who was executed by rebels last Friday.

But despite their disagreements, the Zimbabwean leader says NATO’s military intervention in the oil-producing North African country, starting in March, cannot be justified.

“Zimbabwe cannot accept drawing blood as a model for changing political systems on the continent,â€� Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said. “Moreso when that blood is drawn at the instigation of foreign countries.â€�

Charamba said although their relationship was made out in the media to appear cosy, Mugabe and Gaddafi had profound differences “based on principle�.

For instance, Mugabe thought Gaddafi’s plan for a “United States of Africa� was “too idealistic� and he had privately urged him to reform his country’s system of government by holding elections.

Mugabe also believes Gaddafi was naive, according to his spokesman, when he “opened his system … from the military to the economy to Western countries in the name of rapprochementâ€�, having given up Libya’s ambitions to build a nuclear weapon.

But despite their differences, Mugabe says Gaddafi would be remembered in Zimbabwe for his support of the country’s independence fight in the 1970s.

Charamba said: “Relationships must come from our own experiences; through history and contemporary interactions. The relationship between Zimbabwe and Libya dates back to and is rooted in the days of the liberation struggle when thousands of liberation war fighters went to the North African country for military training.

“Even the integration of the army at independence in 1980 was aided by Libya. We have very senior officers in government who went to that country for further military training.�

“Africa must build relationships with the rest of the world independently. It should never receive friends or foes from Europe and America,� Charamba added.

“As a matter of principle, Zimbabwe does not believe it is the duty of the West to tell us who our friends are and who our enemies are, who the beautiful ones are and who the ugly ones are.�

While Libya’s former rebels and many Western nations welcomed the end of the country’s long rule, many in sub-Saharan Africa are mourning Gaddafi, who is celebrated for his largesse as for his willingness to stand up to the West.

On Friday, approximately 30,000 people packed a mosque in Uganda to pay tribute to the slain leader, according to local news media.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and about half Muslim, a senator told local news media that Colonel Gaddafi “was one of the finest African leaders we have.�

And a former Nigerian militia leader, who said he was once financed by Colonel Gaddafi, told Agence France-Presse that the former Libyan leader’s death would be “avenged.�

The colonel “spilled his blood as a martyr to rekindle the fire of revolution all over the world,� said Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, the militia leader. “The people of the world will rise up against this.�

In South Africa, the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress said Gaddafi “resisted imperialist domination of the African continent and never agreed to the continued draining of natural resources from beneath Africa’s soil.�

Gaddafi came to power in 1969 as a 27-year old ideologue, who modelled himself on President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and focused his energy on leading a pan-Arab renaissance. But by the turn of the century, feeling spurned by his fellow Arabs, he turned his focus south toward sub-Saharan Africa.

He used his own money, as well as state-owned investment firms, to build mosques, hotels and telecommunications companies. He was also the largest donor to the African Union.

Over time, his efforts won him many African allies, and when the uprising against him began this year, the African Union took months to recognise a rebel council as the country’s governing authority.

As Colonel Gaddafi’s enemies begin their efforts to rebuild their country, many on the continent remain angry that the transfer of power happened, in large part, because of the military support NATO provided to the former rebels.

Even some Africans who said they did not necessarily support Colonel Gaddafi were stricken by the way he was killed and argued that he had left behind an important legacy.

Article source: http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-6338-Mugabe,%20Gaddafi%20had%20serious%20rift/news.aspx

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