INTRODUCTION: The Libyan Jamahiriyah has reacted angrily to the latest French moves in the continuing dispute over Chad, where a Libyan military force has been stationed since the recent civil war.
GV Benghazi: crowds chanting at mass rally (4 shots)
SV Libya's leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, addressing crowds in Arabic
GV Tripoli, conference building
SV Arab official chanting, congress meeting
GV PAN Mr. Omar Al Hamdi, Secretary-General of the Arab People's Congress, speaking in Arabic as delegates listen (3 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The Libyan Jamahiriyah has reacted angrily to the latest French moves in the continuing dispute over Chad, where a Libyan military force has been stationed since the recent civil war. The Organisation of African Unity has condemned both Libya's armed presence in Chad and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's plans for a merger between the two countries. But the Arab People's Congress has come out strongly against France, which has strengthened its military presence along Chad's southern border.
A mass rally of students in Benghazi on Wednesday (14 January) were left in no doubt of Libya's position when they heard Colonel Gaddafi express his position with some vigour. The Libyan leader told them that his country's forces in Chad were being reinforced to meet what he described as the growing French military presence along Chad's border.
He said that Libya's forces were there by agreement with Chad and that the Chadean President, Goukouni Oueddi, was the only authority with the right to ask Libya to withdraw. Colonel Gaddafi said that Libya's forces would not leave Chad until the French left Central Africa. He dismissed the OAU's condemnation of Libya's actions, and threatened both the OAU and France with economic sanctions.
Meanwhile, the Arab People's Congress was holding a meeting in Tripoli. The APC has been described as a pan-Arab leftist organisation which groups together socialist parties in a number of Arab countries.
In a thinly-veiled reference to France, the APC Secretary-General, Mr. Omar Al Hamdi, attacked what he described as new colonialist and imperialist policies being pursued in Africa by Western Europe. But France claims that it was invited to step up its military presence in central Africa by countries worried about the growing number of Libyan forces in Chad. French naval sources say that their Mediterranean fleet is on constant standby in Toulon.