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Friday, 20 February 2009

Gaddafi offers oil and power to people

Forty years into the revolution he unleashed on Libya Muammar Gaddafi has announced plans to dismantle the Government, hand the riches from Africa's biggest oil reserves to the people and nationalise foreign oil operations that have recently been allowed back into the country.

“The administration has failed and the state economy has failed. Enough is enough. The solution is, we Libyans take directly the oil money and decide what to do with the money,” he says.

To end the corruption that has sapped the vast oil wealth, bundles of cash should be delivered to the poor, three quarters of the ministries should cease to exist and the workers should run hospitals and schools.

The announcement has left diplomats and the 40 overseas oil companies operating in the country on edge.

Colonel Gaddafi, once derided as a “Mad Dog”, is basking in a new-found friendship with the West but anything is possible in a land that reflects the quixotic nature of its leader.

Across the country, from the smallest desert oasis to campuses and state companies, thousands of people are taking up his proposals at official public gatherings. Never before have the annual Libya's Basic People Congresses - in effect the country's top executive and legislative bodies - been invited to consider such reform.

“Libyans, this is your historic opportunity to take your oil wealth, power and full freedom,” Colonel Gaddafi said on the eve of the five-day round of meetings. More