Leader Moammer Kadhafi called on Libyans Sunday to devote their economic strength to the development of Africa, saying their country's future lies in the continent.
"Your future and the future of your children is in Africa. ... You have money, oil and gas; Africa should benefit from them," Kadhafi told the annual session of the General People's Congress, Libya's legislature.
"The desert must be conquered, roads and railways must be spread across the desert to reach the Nile, the Senegal river and the Great Lakes," Kadhafi said.
"Water shortages are becoming a problem in Arab countries, but Africa has plenty, so it's necessary to think of investing in Africa's agriculture, industry and infrastructure and encourage complementarily inside the continent," he said.
Echoing his announcement earlier this month of the creation of a united Africa, Kadhafi said: "We have the chance now with the birth of the African Union. Our riches and our oil must be put at the service of the African economic zone."
"Africans should also benefit from Libya's riches and you should not be opposed to it," Kadhafi said, alluding to the deadly riots last year that forced 33,000 black Africans to flee Libya.
The Libyan leader has recently promoted himself as a champion of Africa, inviting workers from the continent to work in Libya and earlier this month hosting a summit of 40 African leaders in Sirte, at which he announced the African Union.
"Forget the past, the African Union is a historical turning point. Libyans must have their place; they have no other choice," he said.
Kadhafi was addressing the annual one-week session of the General People's Congress, which is due to look at Libyan internal developments and foreign policy and to question officials about their ministries' activities.
Kadhafi, presented only as "the leader of the Libyan revolution," also strongly criticized the country for its heavy bureaucracy.
"I am not really satisfied. All projects have been paralyzed. How dare you hinder the country's development?" he asked the parliamentarians, calling on them to revise codes to ease the burden on citizens' lives.
Kadhafi abolished parliament when he seized control of Libya in 1969. The rubber-stamp General People's Congress was set up in line with Kadhafi's philosophy of Jamahiriya, or rule by the masses -- SIRTE, Libya (AFP)
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