Qaddafi: My people "would die for me"

Pro-Gadhafi supporters, one holding a photograph of the Libyan Leader, rally in Harsha, near Zawiya, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli, in Libya Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. Hundreds of armed anti-government forces backed by military defectors in Zawiya, the city closest to the capital Tripoli, prepared Sunday to repel an expected offensive by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi who are surrounding the city. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) Ben Curtis

Pro-Qaddafi supporters, one holding a photograph of the Libyan Leader, rally in Harsha, Feb. 27, 2011.
AP Photo/Ben Curtis
Saying that he is revered by Libyans, Muammar Qaddafi said today that he would not - and could not - step down from power.

"My people love me. They would die for me," he said.

In a joint television interview in Tripoli with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour, the BBC's Jeremy Bowen, and the Sunday Times, Qaddafi said that he cannot step down after ruling Libya for more than four decades because he is not a president or king.

Qaddafi also denied that any protests against his regime had taken place in Tripoli, and he denied ever using force against his people.

He said his supporters were under orders not to retaliate against armed demonstrators.

More than 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed in violence against demonstrators since the uprising began two weeks ago, through the use of aerial bombardments and helicopter attacks, snipers, and armed militia.

Last week protesters demanding Qaddafi's ouster reportedly came under a hail of bullets when pro-regime militiamen opened fire on them in Tripoli. One witness described the Tripoli attacks to Al- Jazeerah television as a "scorched earth" policy, with indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas.

Residents also told CBS News that armed supporters of Qaddafi stormed into hospitals to shoot wounded demonstrators, and took dead bodies to an unknown location.

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In the interview Qaddafi also talked of feeling "abandoned" by the West after having joined the fight against al Qaeda.

"Perhaps they want to occupy Libya," he said.

Amanpour reports that, when asked to comment on sanctions imposed on him and his country, Qaddafi said sanctions were based on media reports, and that President Obama has been misinformed.

He suggested representatives of the U.N. could visit Libya on a fact-finding mission.

He also challenged his critics who accuse him of having assets abroad to show proof, and said he would "put two fingers in their eye," reports the BBC.

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