CAIRO, March 2 � Digging in his heels, a defiant Muammar Gaddafi today refused to give up power and claimed that the anti-regime protests were part of a conspiracy to grab the oil resources of Libya, reports PTI.
As his forces went on an offensive to wrest key cities from the rebels, 68-year-old Gaddafi appeared at a public gathering for the first time, an event aired live on state television.
�We will fight to the end, to the last man, the last woman ... With God�s help,� he said while describing the two-week long protests as being orchestrated by only a minority who were being propped up by �foreign forces, foreign media�.
�Millions of Libyan people support me. They say they are ready to die for me,� he said during his address which saw his supporters frequently cheer him.
Making light of a popular uprising against his rule, Gaddafi joined his loyalists at a ceremony to mark 34 years of �people�s power�, accusing al-Qaeda of being behind the rebellion.
Gaddafi, who had assumed the country�s charge 41 years ago through a coup, had proclaimed �people�s power� on March 2, 1977.
In his address, he repeatedly underlined that there is no question of him quitting as he is not a President. �To step down from what? I am just a symbol. Power is in the hands of the people,� he said. �This is a conspiracy to grab our oil resources.�
Amid growing international isolation, Gaddafi called for the United Nations and NATO to �set up fact-finding committees� to find out how people were killed and what had happened in Libya.
He blamed the foreign forces for the events in Libya, saying it was �a conspiracy� to colonise the country and seize its oil resources. �Don�t trust the foreign media�.