CAIRO: Around 50 demonstrators loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi surrounded UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Cairo’s Tahrir Square Monday forcing him to retreat into the adjacent Arab League headquarters.
Shortly afterwards, Ban’s motorcade was caught up in a second protest on the square, this time by hundreds of Egyptians demonstrating outside the former foreign ministry for jobs, housing and a better life.
There were ugly scenes as police and troops forced back the crowd to enable the convoy to pass and take a detour through adjacent side streets to get the UN chief to a meeting with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, the AFP correspondent said.
Chanting "Down, Down USA, Libya, Libya," and carrying the national flag of Qaddafi’s Libya the protesters outside the Arab League HQ surged towards Ban and his 15-strong delegation that included a UN deputy secretary general and former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN Women.
The UN chief had been following in the footsteps of a string of international visitors to Cairo, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in touring the square which was the focus of mass protests that forced veteran president Hosni Mubarak from power last month.
Police and troops intervened to let the UN group make good their escape.
He was unhurt after the incident.
On Sunday, Qaddafi loyalists accompanied by two regime envoys had attempted to occupy the rebel-controlled mission to the Arab League but had been evicted by troops, who closed down the mission, pro-opposition diplomats who were inside at the time told AFP.
The UN chief told the Arab League on Monday that it was vital the world speak as one on Libya, speaking next to the bloc’s secretary general who had criticized coalition air and missile strikes.
"It is important that the international community speak with one voice to implement the second council resolution," he said referring to a UN Security Council passed on Thursday authorizing military action to prevent Qaddafi forces from attacking civilians.
Ban said that "strong and decisive measures" had only been possible because of the support given by the Arab League on March 12 for a UN-imposed no-fly zone over Libya.