Libya's Qaddafi Marks 30 Years of Rule by the 'Green Book' ; the Anniversary of His Political System Comes as Libya Seeks to Improve Its Image in the West

Article excerpt

Crowds of school boys leaned over fences festooned with banners praising Lybian leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi.

They dawdled in streets decorated with the country's green flag and pictures of the "Brother Leader," as Colonel Qaddafi calls himself, to gawk at the best show in town - foreigners and their government minders brought to this desert town in southwest Libya to observe celebrations marking 30 years of The Green Book.

Qaddafi laid out his hybrid socialist and Islamic political system here 30 years ago Friday. And while access to Libya has been limited to Western journalists, now its leaders are eager to show off to the world the longevity of its "great revolution" as this country returns from international isolation.

Quotes from Qaddafi's manual for "direct democracy" are posted along roadsides and on buildings. They extol the virtues of his self- professed partyless, leaderless system in which people govern themselves through a "direct democracy" of committees and conferences.

Signs in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish read: "Partners not wage workers; no democracy without popular congresses and committees everywhere; party's abort democracy; representation is a falsification of democracy."

But the celebration of the anniversary and endurance of Qaddafi's political system and his revolution's ideals this week comes at a time when Libya is seeking to improve its image with the West.

The state was once bombed by the US in retaliation for an attack on a Berlin disco. It sought weapons of mass destruction and was labeled a sponsor of terrorism. It was sanctioned by the US and UN until it allowed two Libyans to be tried for their role in the downing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988. And now, it is finding a receptive ear in the United States.

That said, it still faces international pressure on a number of issues. Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were sentenced to death last December after being found guilty of deliberately injecting more than 400 children with HIV. Leading international scientists found that the charges were groundless, and that the infections began before the medics arrived.

Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, told a Bulgarian newspaper recently that Libya would not carry out the death sentences.

On Feb. 26, the nurses pleaded not guilty to new charges of slandering security officers, a result of statements they made that they were tortured during police interrogations. …


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