Col Gaddafi refuses to step down, playing chess instead
Col Muammar Gaddafi has rebuffed the latest international appeal to step down, instead playing chess with the eccentric Russian multi-millionaire envoy sent to convince him that he was facing an endgame.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Russian head of the World Chess Federation who has claimed to have once visited an alien spaceship, was the latest, and perhaps strangest, international figure to arrive in Tripoli appealing for Gaddafi to go.
Like all the others, however, Mr Ilyumzhinov's message appeared to fall on deaf ears. Instead the unlikely pair played chess together as the television cameras rolled. Colonel Gaddafi used the occasion to send out a propaganda message of calm, although ordinary Libyans may have felt slightly queasy at seeing their leader sacrificing pawns on the chessboard.
In the clip broadcast on state television, which appeared to have been shot in a government building somewhere in the capital and not in a bunker, Gaddafi appeared unsure how to play the board game. But, dressed all in black and wearing his trademark sunglasses, he did look surprisingly relaxed after four months of uprising, civil war and a Nato onslaught from the air. He is thought to spend his time constantly on the move, driving around Tripoli, and sleeping in hospitals and religious places that Nato would never dare bomb.
Yesterday (Mon) Mr Ilyumzhinov told a Russian news agency that the Libyan leader had insisted that he had no intention of stepping down, regardless of the international pressure.
Mr Ilyumzhinov's visit came as Germany became the latest country to recognise the rebel National Transitional Council as the "legitimate representative" of the Libyan people. Germany becomes the 13th nation to recognise the NTC, after Britain, France the US among others.