Muammar Gaddafi: Fall of the dictator

Updated: Oct 21, 2011, 19:33 PM IST

Preeti Panwar

The ‘King of Kings’ of Africa and the longest serving leader of the Arab world, Muammar al Gaddafi is no more. The maverick, who was never going to surrender, died as a fugitive in his own hometown, Sirte in Libya.

He got what he deserved, a ‘dog like him deserved to die like a dog’, said the Bulgarian nurses who were tortured and sentenced to death twice under Gaddafi’s regime. His countrymen were calling him ‘a rat’ while he was hiding in a drain to save his life. Once he was called a ‘mad dog’ by former US President Ronald Reagan as well. I’m sure even hounds would not like to associate themselves with a brutal man like him.

Gaddafi remained defiant but on his last breath, he pleaded, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot”.

Eventually he received a very dishonorable and disgraceful death with reports claiming that he was kicked by the fighter who captured him and a shoe was waved in front of a wounded Gaddafi, which is considered a sign of dishonor in Libya.

At the age of 27, Gaddafi seized power in a bloodless military coup on September 01, 1969 overthrowing the British backed King Idris I. He swayed over Libya for 42 years with an iron fist with no Parliament to dissolve and no political parties to compete for power. His regime’s downfall started with the uprising in February this year and the arrest of a rights activist Fethi Tarbel, causing riots and protests in Benghazi.

The eccentric, Gaddafi, wanted by International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for his alleged atrocities on humanity remained hiding in Libya from last two months. Finally he took shelter at his birthplace and his last stronghold, hometown Sirte where he was killed while fleeing in a convoy during crossfire between his loyalists and National Transitional Council (NTC).

Gaddafi once vowed to hunt down protesters "inch by inch, room by room, home by home, alley by alley."

During his dictatorial leadership, Gaddafi in his maiden address to the UN General Assembly in 2009, breached protocol by making a 100-minute speech against the allotted time of 15 minutes and called that Security Council should be called a “terror council” while defending Somali pirates.

He also caused diplomatic embarrassment for India when he suggested that Kashmir should be made an independent state, not Indian, nor Pakistani. “We should end this conflict. It should be a Ba`athist state between India and Pakistan," he mentioned in his UN speech.

Among the Arab uprisings, Libya was the possibly the fiercest, as Gaddafi refused to quit. Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled after 23 years in power. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was ousted as President on February 11, 2001 after 18 days of protests.

Following Gaddafi’s death, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh and Syria’s Al Bashar Assad may get a cue to quit their reign before they get swallowed by waves of civil war.

And now, Libyans will see a new ray of hope of democracy under the aegis of National Transitional Council leaders. As they say, every end has a new beginning. Libya will hopefully emerge as a new democratic Arab nation.

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