London, Dec 8 (ANI): "Mercurial and eccentric" Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is often ridiculed by the West for his irritating behaviour, but is regarded with fear and mistrust in parts of Africa, according to the secret US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website 'Wikileaks'.
The Guardian quoted the leaked documents as saying that many leaders and officials had reportedly expressed anger about his plans for a United States of Africa.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had even worried about a possible Libyan attack on his aircraft, the paper said.
Gaddafi, who suffers from severe phobias, enjoys flamenco dancing and horse-racing, and acts on his whims and irritates friends and enemies alike, appears to be the object of both political and personal fascination because of the Lockerbie affair and his past support for terrorism, it added.
Earlier Gene Cretz, the US envoy, had found him "almost obsessively dependent on a small core of trusted personnel", including a senior aide who speaks to him on a special red phone.
Cretz had reportedly warned US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton before her visit to Tripoli in August 2008, saying that visitors should be prepared for surprises.
"Muammar al-Gaddafi is notoriously mercurial. He often avoids making eye contact during the initial portion of meetings, and there may be long, uncomfortable periods of silence. Alternatively, he can be an engaging and charming interlocutor ... a self-styled intellectual and philosopher, he has been eagerly anticipating for several years the opportunity to share with you his views on global affairs," the paper quoted him, as saying.
The secret cables had also revealed that Britain feared the fact that Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi could "cut us off at the knees, just like the Swiss", if the Lockerbie bomber was not released.
Vincent Fean, Britain's ambassador to Tripoli at that time, also warned that continuing to hold Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi in a prison in Scotland could have "disastrous implications for British interests in Libya". (ANI)