Robert Mugabe ready to offer Gaddafi asylum

ALGIERS – Embattled Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is said to be readying to flee the country, a London-based Libyan political activist claimed yesterday, as the rebellion crept closer to Tripoli and forces loyal to Col Gaddafi struck back in several cites surrounding the capital.\r\n

"Gaddafi’s private plane is loaded with gold bullion and lots of hard currency, mainly dollars, and is preparing to flee to Zimbabwe to stay there with his friend Robert Mugabe," Mr Guma el-Gamaty told Australian broadcaster ABC yesterday, quoting "quite reliable sources".

"We think this could happen very shortly because the Security Council is threatening to impose a no-fly zone and we think that Gaddafi will try to escape before this no-fly zone is imposed, possibly by tomorrow."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday led calls for a Nato-imposed no-fly zone to be enforced over Libya to "prevent the use of that country’s warplanes against (its) population".

In the afternoon, Col Gaddafi called a state TV talk show and delivered another rambling speech blaming the week-long unrest on Al Qaeda. He also said people were fighting among each other and were taking hallucinogenic drugs.

In towns within an hour’s drive from the capital, armed pro-Gaddafi militias, consisting of mercenaries from other African countries and irregular security forces, patrolled the streets and residents stayed indoors.

Meanwhile, Libya’s borders with neighbours Egypt and Tunisia were no longer manned by the Libyan army, according to reports. Reuters