Monday, February 21, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi Flees Tripoli — Regime's Grip on Power Crumbles Amid Mounting Pressure

At London's Daily Mail, "On the run: Gaddafi flees Tripoli as protesters set the Libyan parliament building alight."

And at New York Times, "
Qaddafi’s Grip on Power Seems to Ebb as Forces Retreat":

The 40-year-rule of Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi appeared to teeter Monday as his security forces retreated to a few buildings in the Libyan capital of Tripoli where fires burned unchecked, senior government officials and diplomats announced defections, and the country’s second-largest city remained under the control of rebels.

Security forces loyal to Mr. Qaddafi defended a handful of strategic locations, including the state television headquarters and the presidential palace, witnesses reported from Tripoli. Fires from the previous night’s rioting burned at many intersections, most stores were shuttered, and long lines were forming for a chance to buy bread or gas.

In a sign of growing cracks within the government, several senior officials — including members of the the Libyan mission to the United Nations — announced their resignations. And protesters in Benghazi, the city where the revolt began, issued a list of demands calling for a secular interim government led by the army in cooperation with a council of Libyan tribes.

Security forces loyal to Mr. Qaddafi waved green flags as they rallied in Tripoli’s central Green Square Monday under the protection of a handful of police, these witnesses said. But they constituted one of the few visible signs of government authority around the capital.

Tripoli descended into chaos in less than 24 hours as a six day old revolt suddenly spread from Benghazi across the country and into the capital on Sunday. The revolt shaking Libya is the latest and most violent turn in the rebellion across the Arab world that seemed unthinkable just two months ago.

In a rambling, disjointed address delivered about 1 a.m. on Monday, Mr. Qaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, played down the uprising sweeping the country, which witnesses and rights activists say has left more than 220 people dead and hundreds wounded from gunfire by security forces. He repeated several times that “Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt” — the neighbors to the east and west that both overthrew their veteran autocrats in the space of the last six weeks.

The United States condemned the Qaddafi government’s lethal use of force.
Also at BBC, "Libya protests: Col Gaddafi under mounting pressure," and Hot Air, "Protestors holding Libya’s second-largest city?" (via Memeorandum).