Mugabe dispatches Commandos to protect Gaddafi
HARARE – There are unconfirmed reports doing the rounds in Zimbabwe State intelligence circles saying President Robert Mugabe has sent troops from his Commando crack unit to Libya to save his long time ally and financier Colonel Muammaur Gaddafi.
The accuracy of these allegations have not been not been verified but plausible bags of evidence based on the relationship between the two leaders are hugely backing the reports.
Libya’s ambassador to India, who resigned following a crackdown on protests, told Reuters on Tuesday that African mercenaries were being used by the authorities, prompting some army troops to switch sides to the opposition.
In Harare the rumour mill in the intelligence and military circles said a chartered Russian aircraft flew into Harare on Monday evening and left for Libya early Tuesday morning carrying troops from the crack Commando Unit.
Last night’ the Libyan leader signaled his defiance in the face of a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule, making bizarre sporadic appearances on state television living up to his eccentric gamesmanship in a desperate effort to show up his waning power.
Swathed in brown robes, Gaddafi seethed and banged a podium on Tuesday outside one of his residences that was damaged in a 1986 U.S. air strike aiming to kill him.
Next to him stood a monument of a fist crushing a U.S. fighter jet.
"I am not going to leave this land. I will die here as a martyr," Gaddafi said on state television, refusing to bow to calls from some of his own ministers, soldiers and protesters who braved a fierce crackdown to clamour for him to go.
His forces have cracked down fiercely on anti-government demonstrators, with fighting now spreading beyond the capital Tripoli after erupting in Libya’s oil-producing east last week.
This morning, The Zimbabwe Mail tabled a number of questions to Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa with regards to these allegations and his office has not rejected or confirmed the claims.
Over the years, Gaddafi has become one of Robert Mugabe’s most vocal political allies in African Summits and is believed to have contributed millions of dollars towards the Zimbabwean president’s re-election campaigns.
In 2001, a British newspaper reported that Gaddafi had sent troops to Zimbabwe, to help Robert Mugabe crack down on his political opponents and the white farmers, according to Zimbabwean intelligence officers.
The two leaders have signed dozens of bilateral agreements which contributed millions of dollars worth of Libyan oil supplies.
Gaddafi once visited Zimbabwe, driving down from the Zambian capital, Lusaka, in a motorcade packed with female Nubian bodyguards. During his visit, the Libyan dictator urged Zimbabwe’s Asian Muslims to wage a jihad against Zimbabwe’s small white population.
While in Zimbabwe, the Libyan leader also held secret talks with Pagad, a secretive Muslim organisation based in Cape Town.
As part of the oil deal, Gaddafi’s regime acquired some 20 Zimbabwean properties, from mansions in Harare’s northern suburbs to farms.
There are fears in Zimbabwe that the properties could become bases for the Gaddafi’s rogue terrorist agents seeking retribution once he is deposed from power.
Gaddafi once dreamt of a United Africa States under him as King, with the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as his prime minister. The pair have long streak of bullying other African leaders in African Summits and imposing their wills on the continent’s resolutions.
Uganda has even accused Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of involvement in recent terrorism attacks in which two suicide bombs killed 76 people as they watched the FIFA World Cup final in Kampala last year.
Controversial whistleblower website, Wikileaks has already revealed that Uganda leader Yoweri Museveni fears the Libyan leader is out to shoot down his Presidential plane and he has since asked the US security agencies for surveillance protection whenever he is flying.
The embattled Libyan leader has also made controversial remarks calling for Nigeria to be divided, and some in Nigeria have fingered him the recent violence between Christians and Moslems which have left thousands dead.
"The mercenaries are from Africa, and speak French and other languages," Libyan ambassador to India Ali al-Essawi said in an interview, adding that he was receiving information from sources within the OPEC-member country.
Essawi, who has left the Libyan embassy since he resigned on Monday to protest the violent crackdown and is now staying at a hotel in New Delhi, said he had been told there had been army defections.
"They (troops) are Libyans and they cannot see foreigners killing Libyans so they moved beside the people," Essawi said, looking nervous and agitated.
Diplomats have said the U.N. Security Council would hold a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Libya.
"Libyans cannot do anything against the air fighters. We do not call for international troops, but we call on the international community to save the Libyans," Essawi said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Essawi told Reuters that he expected more diplomats at foreign missions to resign due to the ongoing violence in Libya. He said ambassadors in China, Poland, Tunisia, the Arab League, and the United States had also stepped down.
"Fighter aircraft were bombing civilians on the streets of Tripoli, this is unprecedented violence," Essawi said.
Last month, the mainstream Movement for Democratic Change warned the Libyan embassy in Zimbabwe against continued funding of Zanu (PF) and said it was also incensed that the party had embarked on a massive vote buying campaign using food handouts and farming inputs.
The Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC said in statements it had been dismayed to learn that the Libyan embassy had donated nine tractors and other farming implements at a function in the town of Chegutu.
Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections later this year after the completion of the constitutional process which has been marred by violence and intimidation by Zanu (PF) supporters. There are fears that Zanu (PF) is planning a war like campaign to retain to power and are said to be prepared to use violence reminiscent of the 2008 post March elections to force people to vote for them.