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Qaddafi speech: I can't resign since I'm not president

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Libyan State Television/Reuters

(Read caption) Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi speaks on national television from Tripoli in this Feb. 22 still image taken from video. Qaddafi said on Tuesday he would not step down despite a nationwide revolt against his rule.

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Tunisia's Ben Ali fled. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak resigned. But Mr. Ali's ally in Libya, Muammar Qaddafi, seems bent on continuing his brutal fight against the nationwide revolt that threatens his 41-year grip on power.

The eccentric despot told Libyan state TV Tuesday night that he "will die as a martyr."

In a disjointed discourse delivered before a statue of a fist smashing an American military jet, the leader signaled his commitment to a violent cling to power that starts to make Egypt's Mubarak look like a Jeffersonian democrat.


The problem is that Mr. Qaddafi – thanks to the whimsical system of governance he's given Libya – rejects the proposition that he has any power to concede.

"If I were president, I would have resigned, but I have no position to resign from," he explained.

In foreign capitals, the Brotherly Leader's defecting diplomatic corps has deserted Qaddafi in droves and is rushing to stress how different the Libyan crisis will be from Egypt or Tunisia.

Demonstrators in those countries shocked increasingly apathetic, and broadly unpopular autocrats from power in a swifter and more peaceful end to those regimes than most could have imagined.

Libya, Qaddafi's former head of protocol said, will be a bloodbath.

"He will continue," Nuri al-Mismari told Reuters. "There is nobody stronger than the people, but he will not leave Libya, he will not step down."

Rights groups say roughly 300 people have already died in crackdowns that have seen bombs funneled on Tripoli and tanks over-running protests. Opposition groups say the death toll could soon become much higher.


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