Strongman Muammar Gadaffi repeated in a speech at a ceremony in Tripoli on Wednesday that he holds no real power in Libya, as rebel forces repelled an offensive by his forces east of the capital.
"The world must understand this truth: There is no place for a president, a king, or a leader in the Jamahiriya system," he said in front of dozens of supporters at the ceremony to mark 34 years of "people power."
The ceremony was aired live on Libyan television shortly after rebels said they repelled an attack by Gadaffi's forces in the eastern town of Brega on Wednesday, with witnesses reporting two civilians killed. The event was to mark the anniversary of the launch of the People's Committees, according to the broadcaster. Reading from a prepared text, Gadaffi's speech was frequently interrupted by chants, which he duly praised.
"The Libyan people challenge... even Moamer Kadhafi who has no power," said Gadaffi, who rose to power after a coup against Libya's monarchy in 1969. "When the People's Committees issue something, it becomes law and is implemeented for all Libyans. No one can declare war or peace unless the People's Committees decide," the Libyan leader said.
"Moamer has no real power to surrender." Wednesday's counterattack by Gadaffi's forces was one of the biggest yet since the uprising against his rule erupted on February 15. Anti-Gadaffi forces have seized most of the east of the country since the uprising began and have taken tentative steps towards setting up a parallel government, while watching warily for a fightback. Gadaffi remains entrenched the capital Tripoli in the west of the oil-rich North African country.
He alleged that Al-Qaeda is behind a popular uprising against his 41-year rule.