America is not a democracy
It is governed by 400 families
that control power and arms

Gadhafi condemns United States on coup anniversary

Tripoli, Libya

By Ibrahim Khalili

Published on: Sunday, 14 JamadiŽul Thani 1422 (2 September 2001)

Shia News -

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi slammed the United States in a speech Saturday to mark the 32nd anniversary of his rise to power - saying the nation was run by 400 powerful families and mocking it for being afraid of Osama bin Laden.

In a 2 1/2-hour speech, Gadhafi expounded on his vision of a perfect society in which, for instance, people economize on water by buying smaller drinking glasses. He said taxes are a waste of ink and the paper the forms are printed on.

The speech culminated two days of celebrations marking Gadhafi's coup that ousted King Idris on Sept. 1, 1969, while the aging monarch was out of the country. Gadhafi, who was 27 at the time of the revolution, is now 59.

Most of the festivities took place Friday. African groups danced in Tripoli's streets. Gadhafi threw an open-air banquet for his guests - including several African presidents - and he presided over the graduation of police and army officers.

Dressed in a khaki safari suit, Gadhafi appeared relaxed Saturday as he addressed members of the country's General People's Congress, a legislative body whose members are elected indirectly through a hierarchy of people's committees.

In Libya, there is no president, no parliament and no Cabinet. Gadhafi holds no formal office and, in theory, Libya is a jamahiriya, a state of the masses, governed by the populace through local councils. In fact, though, Gadhafi is the absolute ruler of the country of more than 5 million.

In his speech, Gadhafi said the system of government in the United States, which he has long been at odds with, is "antiquated and should be thrown in the garbage. It belongs in the museum." He said parties in Britain are just "clubs for noblemen and lords."

"America is not a democracy. ... It is governed by 400 families that control power and arms," Gadhafi said. He did not say which families.

He also said that Saudi terror suspect bin Laden, "a thin man with a weight of about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and armed only with a Kalashnikov (assault rifle)... scares America more than the former Soviet Union did."

Gadhafi even accused U.S. labs of developing the AIDS virus.

He also said that the school system in the age of the Internet should be modernized to allow today's generation to begin specializing in their majors around the age of 14, after intermediate school, instead of waiting until university schooling.

Gadhafi said he learned how to use the Internet in 1998, two years after its introduction in the country.

Toward the end, he pulled out a sheet of paper listing yearly incomes in different countries and said he would like to have the personal income in Libya rise from $5,000 a year to about $24,000. He asked the congress members to come up with an economic plan on how to hike salaries and, at the same time, save money.

With respect to savings, he held up a glass of water and said it was too big, and people could not possibly drink all the liquid they poured into it. Smaller glasses would stop them from throwing away excess liquid, he said.

Gadhafi's relations with the United States have long been strained. In 1986, U.S. aircraft bombed Tripoli, and the U.S. government imposed the sanctions it still maintains. The U.S. State Department considers Libya one of seven countries that sponsor terrorism.



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