YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Parade Marks Kadafi's 17th Year at Libyan Helm

September 02, 1986|Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya — Col. Moammar Kadafi, flanked by Soviet officials, celebrated his 17th anniversary as Libya's leader Monday by reviewing a 90-minute military parade that featured more than 18,000 soldiers and an array of Soviet-made weaponry.

The display of military might, including Soviet-made tanks, SAM-5 surface-to-air missiles and Scud ground-to-ground missiles, came hours after a defiant speech in which Kadafi derided President Reagan and praised Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, saying the Libyans and Russians share common interests.

Clad in a camouflage uniform and maroon beret for the parade review, Kadafi smiled and gave his clenched-fist salute to 200 female soldiers who marched past in combat fatigues and high-heeled shoes, toting Kalashnikov automatic rifles.

Foreign Officials Present

Among the leaders of foreign delegations attending celebrations of the overthrow of the late King Idris I were Soviet First Vice President Pyotr Demichev, Maltese Prime Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, leaders of Syrian-based Palestinian factions and officials from Vietnam, Syria, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

Four Libyan air force MIGs swooped overhead as Kadafi drove away in a red Cadillac convertible, surrounded by bodyguards.

After the anniversary observances, Kadafi flew to Zimbabwe on Monday evening to attend a summit meeting of nonaligned nations. The trip is one of the few he has made from his homeland in recent years.

Kadafi's speech the night before was embellished with a number of anti-Western rhetorical flourishes typical of the Libyan strongman.

'Psychologically Sick'

"Reagan is a madman, physically and psychologically sick," he told a flag-waving crowd of 5,000 in Green Square, gathered to hail the Sept. 1, 1969, military coup that brought him to power.

As the crowd held aloft his portrait and applauded, the 44-year-old colonel gestured with a silver pointer and vowed to recruit an army from Central America, Africa and Asia if the United States does not cease what he called its confrontational policies.

"If Reagan doesn't stop his stupidities, I will form an international army to fight America everywhere, and I'm sure that in a few years the world will be rid of this new Nazi empire," he said.

The crowd shouted, "When you call us, O commander, we will leap into the fire!"

Kadafi mixed insults to Reagan and criticism of U.S. policy in his speech with compliments for Moscow, which he said has stood by its responsibilities toward Libya.

Frigates, Jet Fighters

The Soviets have supplied Libya with two frigates, MIG jet fighters and military transport planes to replace losses from U.S. attacks in the Gulf of Sidra in March and on Tripoli and Benghazi in April.

Kadafi's anti-American outburst came after four months of silence following the U.S. air raid on April 15, when his home in Tripoli was among the sites hit and his adopted baby daughter was one of those killed.

Washington said the attack was in retaliation for purported Libyan support of a terrorist attack in West Germany that killed Americans.

Los Angeles Times Articles