Chavez proclaims solidarity with besieged Kadhafi

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared Tuesday that he will continue to recognize only Moamer Kadhafi as the legitimate leader of Libya, despite signs the regime is likely in its last throes.

In Libya, Chavez said, there is "only one government, the one led by Moamer Kadhafi," the Venezuelan leader said, restating earlier criticism of the NATO bombardment that contributed to the collapse of the Libyan strongman's regime.

"We affirm our solidarity with the attacked and bombarded Libyan people," he said, in a statement made during a cabinet meeting broadcast by television and radio.

The remarks echoed a statement by Chavez Monday, when he slammed the West's military action against Kadhafi as "a massacre."

Chavez has accused the western powers of being motivated by "cynicism" and greed to seize the oil reserves of the north African country, a fellow member of the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"It's an excuse to invade and take over a country and its riches."

Last week Chavez joined fellow US foe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran in denouncing the West's "imperialist aggression" against Libya.

The Venezuelan leader, Kadhafi's main supporter in Latin America, has consistently denounced the months-long military operation in Libya claiming it is an oil grab by Western powers.

Ecuador, a Venezuelan ally, took a parallel diplomatic tack Tuesday slamming what it called a NATO invasion of Libya.

"What many countries have been saying has been confirmed: we are talking about a clear invasion and a detriment to the self-determination of the Libyan people," Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told the government's online newspaper.

"Now they are going to take control of the oil, as could have been expected, like they did in Iraq; they invaded Iraq, took the oil, hundreds of thousands of people died and of course, since they are the most powerful countries in the world, nobody puts them on trial," Quito's top diplomat said.

Chavez has been a staunch supporter of Libya's in the face of almost universal condemnation of the regime by countries around the world.

As the rest of the world has attempted to alienate the Libyan strongman, Caracas, along with Tehran, has solidified political and trade ties with Tripoli in recent years.

Chavez's remarks came as rebel fighters on Tuesday captured Kadhafi's heavily fortified compound and headquarters in Tripoli after a day of fierce fighting.

The whereabouts of Kadhafi and most of his relatives were unknown after the insurgents breached the defenses as part of a massive assault that began in the morning.

But one son, Seif al-Islam, told reporters in Tripoli Tuesday that his father and family members were still in the Libyan capital, declining to say where.


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