Thursday, 20 October 2011

After 42 years at the helm of his sparsely populated, oil-rich nation, Muammar Gaddafi - the Arab world's longest-ruling leader - lost his grip on power after a six-month uprising.

Since he lead a successful military coup in 1969, Gaddafi styled himself as Libya's "brother leader" and the "guide of the revolution", as an almost paternal figure looking after Libya's six million inhabitants.

His relationship with the rest of the world was erratic. For years, Gaddafi was known in the West as a pariah, blamed for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. After years of denial, Libya acknowledged responsibility and agreed to pay up to $10m to relatives of victims; Gaddafi also declared he would dismantle all weapons of mass destruction.

Those moves eased him back into the international community.

In February, one week into the uprising, Gaddafi vowed to die as a "martyr" on Libyan soilIn February, only weeks after street protests brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, a rebellion against Gaddafi's rule started in the country's east.

Days after it began, Gaddafi gave a televised speech in which he vowed to hunt down protesters "inch by inch, room by room, home by home, alleyway by alleyway". The speech caused anger, helping to fuel the armed rebellion against him.

Early days

Gaddafi was born in 1942 in the coastal area of Sirte to nomadic parents. He attended Benghazi University to study geography, but dropped out to join the army.

The deposed leader came to power in 1969 at the age of 27 after leading a bloodless coup against King Idris.

After seizing power, he laid out a political philosophy based on pan-African, pan-Arab and anti-imperialist ideals, blended with aspects of Islam. While he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones.

The Libyan leader was an admirer of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his Arab socialist and nationalist ideology. As a strong member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War era, Gaddafi tried to mold the Libyan political system in a way which he said was an alternative to both capitalism and communism.

Gaddafi played a prominent role in organising Arab opposition to the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Later shunned by a number of Arab states, partly on the basis of his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gaddafi's foreign policy focus shifted from the Arab world to Africa.

The Libyan ruler argued for the creation of a "United States of Africa" - an idea first conceived by US pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey - in which the continent would include "a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent"

He also supported membership among countries in other parts of the world whose citizens are mostly part of the African diaspora, including Haiti and Jamaica.

The project did not pan out, although some of its ideas influenced the African Union, which was created in 2002. Gaddafi served as chairman of the African Union from 2009 to 2010.

A 2008 meeting of African monarchs proclaimed Gaddafi the continent's "king of kings".

Crushing dissent

In 1977 he changed the country's name to the Great Socialist Popular Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah (State of the Masses) and allowed people to air their views at public congresses.

Some critics defined his rule as a military dictatorship, accusing him of repressing civil society and ruthlessly crushing dissidence. The regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death, according to Human Rights Watch.

At the UN General Assembly in 2009, Gaddafi accused the body of being a terrorism group like al-Qaeda [EPA]Lockerbie bombing

Gaddafi maintained a position of anti-imperialism throughout his rule, supporting independence movements against colonial rule around the world. He allegedly gave material support to groups labelled "terrorists" by numerous wealthy countries, including Colombia's FARC and Northern Ireland's IRA.

Libya's alleged involvement in the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub in which two American soldiers were killed prompted US air attacks on Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 35 Libyans. Ronald Reagan, then the US president, called him a "mad dog".

The 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie is possibly the most well-known and controversial incident associated internationally with Gaddafi.

For many years, Gaddafi denied involvement, resulting in UN sanctions and Libya’s status as a pariah state. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was convicted of planting the bomb. In 2003, Gaddafi's regime formally accepted responsibility for the attack and paid compensation to the families of those who died.

Gaddafi also broke Libya's isolation from the West in the same year by relinquishing his entire inventory of weapons of mass destruction.

In September 2004, George W Bush, the US president at the time, formally ended a US trade embargo as a result of Gaddafi's scrapping of the arms programme and taking responsibility for Lockerbie.

The normalisation of relations with Western powers allowed the Libyan economy to grow, and the oil industry in particular benefited.

However, Gaddafi and Lockerbie came back into the spotlight in 2009, when al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on the grounds that he was terminally ill and was nearing death. He returned to Libya to a hero's welcome from Gaddafi and many Libyans, sparking condemnation by the US and the UK, among others.

In September 2009, Gaddafi visited the US for his first appearance at the UN General Assembly.

His speech was supposed to last 15 minutes, but ended up lasting over an hour. He tore up a copy of the UN charter, accused the Security Council of being a terrorist body similar to al-Qaeda, and demanded $7.7tn in compensation to be paid to Africa by its past colonial rulers.

During a visit to Italy in August 2010, Gaddafi's invitation to hundreds of young women to convert to Islam overshadowed the two-day trip, which was intended to cement the growing ties between Tripoli and Rome.

Libyan rebellion

Inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans began to hold protests against his regime in the eastern city of Benghazi in February of this year.

Gaddafi used military force to quell demonstrations, but the protests escalated into an all-out armed conflict, with NATO-led forces intervening.

On June 27, the brutal actions of the Libyan government were referred to the International Criminal Court, which issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, one of his sons and his spy chief on charges of crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi repeatedly blamed the unrest on al-Qaeda and a "colonialist plot". He called those opposed to him "rats", and alleged that they had been influenced by "hallucinogenic drugs". In his last address before rebels entered Tripoli, he accused "Western intelligence" of "working with al-Qaeda to destroy Libya".

On October 20, an NTC official reported that Gaddafi had been killed near Sirte after fighters liberated the deposed leader's hometown.

Footage obtained by Al Jazeera appeared to show Libyans dragging the body of their former leader through the streets.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

The Second Session of the Committee on Human and Social Development Opens at ECA
Addis Ababa, 18 October 2011 (ECA)

The second session of the Committee on Human and Social Development of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was opened Tuesday 18th October by the deputy-executive secretary of ECA, Ms Jennifer Kargbo. The committee is an intergovernmental body that guides the work of ECA in the area of human and social development. Membership of the committee comprises experts in social policy from government ministries, academia and some civil society organizations.
Ms Kargbo welcomed all participants to ECA on behalf of the executive secretary, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, saying the meeting comes at a critical time for Africa as the continent is being affected by the global financial and economic crisis, adverse effects of climate change, rising cost of food and fuels and the effects of natural disasters and civil strife.
“In light of this, ECA plans to undertake a strategic focusing exercise to better articulate the priority areas of social development that it should be addressing. This exercise will ensure that ECA responds more effectively to issues that member States consider priority and critical to achieving inclusive and equitable development in their countries,” she said.
Ms. Kargbo said although many African countries experienced economic growth in excess of six percent over the last ten years, the quality of life for the majority of people has not improved. “Although we need growth to end poverty, growth alone is not sufficient. The highest pay-offs to poverty reduction will only be attained through the provision of basic social services and creation of broad-based labour-intensive growth,” she said.
The deputy executive secretary concluded by calling on all the experts to deliberate extensively on the numerous challenges facing Africa and to make actionable recommendations that can guide the future work of the Economic Commission for Africa.
The African Union Commission (AUC) was represented at the meeting by Dr. John Strydom from its department of social affairs. He said the AUC has a comprehensive social policy framework that serves as its guiding principle.
He said the four key areas in its policy framework are implementing social protection measures across Africa; strengthening the family in Africa as the bedrock of many social protection measures in African societies; facilitating the development of human resources and labour migration; and supporting gender equality.
“The conference of African ministers for social development that took place in Khartoum, Sudan two years ago deliberated extensively on the policy options. The ministers came up with clear guidelines in these four areas and that is also very relevant with the agenda of this committee,” he said. He said the ministers have also asked for a report on social development measures being implemented in Africa at their next meeting, which is scheduled for 2012.
The meeting was formally opened by the Chairperson of the outgoing bureau, Uganda, who handed over to the new bureau, which is being chaired by Egypt. During the two-day discussion, the committee will advise ECA on its on-going work in the area of social development and make recommendations on new areas of focus.
Issued by the ECA Information and Communication Service
P.O. Box 3001
Addis Ababa