Khadafy diatribe rips UN structure

Ahmadinejad attacks US, allies

Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy, speaking at the United Nations yesterday, railed against the powers held by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy, speaking at the United Nations yesterday, railed against the powers held by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. (Mike Segar/ Reuters)
By John Heilprin
Associated Press / September 24, 2009

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UNITED NATIONS - After 40 years of shunning UN appearances, Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy evidently had a lot to get off his chest.

So he stepped to the world’s stage, armed with a yellow folder of handwritten notes, and for 1 hour and 36 minutes yesterday, the so-called “king of kings’’ let loose.

Khadafy’s speech was far from the longest: Cuba’s Fidel Castro spoke for 4 hours and 29 minutes in the 1960s, according to UN associate spokesman Farhan Haq.

The impact of Khadafy’s rambling speech was stunning. Half the cavernous chamber, packed for President Obama’s first speech to the UN General Assembly, emptied out. Delegates’ faces seemed angry, quizzical, fatigued.

Polite applause followed the opening remarks of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Ali Treki.

Treki introduced Khadafy as the “king of kings.’’ But Khadafy remained in his seat for 15 more minutes as an awkward silence and confusion gripped the chamber.

Finally, Khadafy swept his robes over himself and strode to the stage. He laid a yellow folder in front of him on the podium, and pressed open some of the handwritten pages. There was scattered applause in the half-empty chamber.

Khadafy held up a copy of the UN Charter in his hands. He sorted through the pages of his yellow folder.

There was no prepared text. He was not reading from the TelePrompTer.

Khadafy began railing against the UN’s power structure, tilted toward the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

He called the General Assembly “the parliament of the world’’ that should be dictating decisions to the Security Council.

Delegates began walking out on Khadafy. There was amazement and disbelief. Others laughed or smiled.

“It should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the ‘Terror Council,’ ’’ Khadafy said.

And when Khadafy finally concluded, delegates lightly applauded and no one stood.

But Khadafy clasped his hands above him and waved in triumph as he left.

Later, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke to a half-empty chamber, casting himself as a beleaguered champion of the developing world.

At the same time, the Iranian leader issued stinging attacks on the United States and its allies without calling them by name. The delegations of the United States, Canada, and Israel were among those absent.

Ahmadinejad did not mention the uproar over Iran’s nuclear program, calling instead for global nuclear disarmament.

Before he spoke, foreign ministers of six global powers told reporters on the sidelines of the General Assembly that they expect Iran to come clean about its nuclear program. Tougher sanctions against Iran are being considered if talks between the powers and Iran on the issue, set for Oct. 1, don’t yield results.

At times, Ahmadinejad struck a softer tone, declaring that Tehran was “prepared to warmly shake all those hands which are honestly extended to us.’’

Turning to domestic affairs, Ahmadinejad insisted he won a “large majority’’ in what he described as “glorious and fully democratic’’ June elections.

Outside the UN complex, hundreds of supporters of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi rallied against Ahmadinejad. A demonstrator, Amir Arani, said that the election was stolen and that “our president is not Ahmadinejad.’’