Venezuela's Chavez says Gaddafi still Libya's leader

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 24, 2011 2:14 PM
Venezuela's Chavez says Gaddafi still Libya's leader

By Kevin Gray

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday he will only recognize a Libyan government led by his friend and ally Muammar Gaddafi and accused the United States of inciting the country's civil war.

Chavez accused Western powers of riding roughshod over international laws by supporting the rebels in their revolt against Gaddafi.

"This is kicking, spitting ... on the most basic elements of international law," he said. "Where are the international rights? This is like the caveman era."

Venezuela's socialist leader spoke after rebels overran Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli in what appeared to be the end of his 42-year rule.

"We only recognize one government, the one led by Muammar Gaddafi," Chavez said to applause as he presided over a cabinet meeting broadcast live on state TV.

During six months of civil war more than 30 countries, including the United States and major European Union countries, have moved to recognize the rebel National Transitional Council as the governing authority in Libya.

The 57-year-old former soldier one again accused Western powers of fueling the conflict to steal Libya's oil.

"They arranged this war," Chavez said, referring to the United States. "They provided the arms, the mercenaries. They better not attempt to apply the Libyan formula to Venezuela or we'll have to show them our power."

Both Chavez and Gaddafi are military men who cast themselves as anti-imperialist revolutionaries and forged a friendship during half a dozen encounters in the past decade.

They have enjoyed a long-standing alliance based on left-wing economic ideas, antagonistic relations with the United States, and their countries' membership in OPEC.

Some media reports have suggested Gaddafi, whose whereabouts remain unknown, could seek asylum in Venezuela but Chavez made no reference to that.

(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)