London: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi sent two escort women to an opponent of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar al Gaddafi as a favour to the Libyan leader, it has emerged.
Gaddafi was the surprise choice as leader of the 53-nation African Union in February 2009 much to the unease of countries such as Tanzania and Nigeria, reports the Telegraph.
Nuri Al Mismari, a former close aide of Col Gaddafi's, in an interview with Arab newspaper Ashaeq Al-Awsat in Paris, revealed the details of how the escorts were provided.
Al Mismari was Gaddafi's diplomatic chief for 35 years before he left Libya in 2010 and went into exile in Paris.
He told the Arab newspaper that an unidentified African leader was opposing the election of Col Gaddafi but the situation was "resolved with an unorthodox solution”.
"Berlusconi helped resolve the situation and secure Gaddafi's position by sending in two beautiful escorts to the leader of the African nation in question. This had the desired effect. The leader was convinced and he gave his vote to Gaddafi – and from here is born the expression 'bunga bunga' which indicates salacious, adventurous women,” he said.
Al Mismari said he was "ashamed" to have worked for the regime, but said Western leaders should also shoulder some of the blame for treating Col Gaddafi as they did.
"Everybody was kissing his hand – heads of state, heads of government. They don't feel shame now? They had guards of honour for Gaddafi when he came to their countries. They brought out the red carpet for him. They don't feel shame?" he asked.
First Published: Monday, March 07, 2011, 15:18