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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK

World: Africa

Gaddafi: Three decades in pictures

The quixotic colonel has had an eventful 30 years in charge of Libya.

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Muammar Gaddafi was a signals captain when he seized power in a bloodless military coup on 1 September 1969.

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Seeing himself as the "custodian of Arabism" he never gained the support or trust of other Arab leaders such as President Sadat of Egypt and President Assad of Syria.

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Full of revolutionary ideas he has always provided good copy for journalists - though he often keeps them waiting for weeks.

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The US bombed Libya in 1986 in retaliation for his support for "terrorist" groups.

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Always a showman, his fondness for dressing up ranges from designer gear, to uniforms and traditional costumes.

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He made friends with Egypt in 1989, but his drive for radical positions on Arab issues isolated him.

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The BBC's John Simpson interviewed a limping Colonel Gaddafi in 1998 in a traditional bedouin tent.

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Fed up with years of rejection by Arab leaders, he has turned towards Africa, his new spiritual home.

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Colonel Gaddafi's support for the anti-apartheid struggle ensured a warm friendship with his "brother leader" Nelson Mandela.

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With Lockerbie sanctions suspended, his transformation from Arabist revolutionary into an African elder statesman looks likely.

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