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What did Gaddafi ask of Rajapaksa?

Why did Libya's dictatorial leader Muammar Gaddafi call President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week? No one is willing to talk about it. A Presidential aide said it was a chat between two leaders.

world Updated: Mar 08, 2011 23:54 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Why did Libya's dictatorial leader Muammar Gaddafi call President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week? No one is willing to talk about it. A Presidential aide said it was a chat between two leaders.

This after saying that the adjective "mysterious" which HT initially used on its website to describe the phone call was "mischievous". He then sportingly added that he "was willing to play if HT was willing to play." Okay, how about a call between friends then? So the mystery was resolved and "Close ally Gaddafi calls up Rajapaksa," was carried. I didn't get anymore phone calls from the aide after that.

That the two leaders are close allies there is no doubt; the Rajapaksa family visited Libya thrice in less than two years. According to AFP, some $ 500 million Libyan investment in Lankan was under negotiation.

But did the beleaguered north African dictator, and the world's great non-aligned friend, call up other world leaders? He must have; there was talk about Venezuela's Hugo Chavez calling up to mediate between Gaddafi and the rebels. Maybe, no one less gave such calls publicity.

Rajapaksa of course has always been hospitable to leaders internationally misunderstood. The former Myanmar dictator Than Shwe was hosted with aplomb in 2009; a 68-large delegation accompanied him. The only complaint he went back with was a stomach bug.

Even if the cozy long distance call between Gaddafi – accused of deploying fighter jets to kill hundreds of his own countrymen – and Rajapaksa was publicised here, it was only done to send out a noble message from him: Rajapaksa told Gaddafi to establish peace and safeguard the lives of the Libyan people. Alas, the phone line must not have been clear; the carnage continues.

Mubarak's Egypt was luckier. It received a prayer for democracy from the Rajapaksa regime. '…smooth and peaceful transition of power in Egypt…progress and stability within a democratic framework of governance," the official statement said.

No such luck for close ally Libya. Peace and safe life were good enough.

Anyway, Rajapaksa was in Libya in September 2009 to attend the 40th anniversary of the country's 'Great September Revolution.' Will he be invited to the 'Great March Revolution' anniversary if ever? Will a phone in Colombo just keep ringing?