Throwing fistfuls of cash from his open-top limousine to puzzled villagers lining the route, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his flamboyant roadshow rumbled into drought-stricken Malawi yesterday. It is the Libyan leader’s latest stop on his charm offensive across southern Africa.
Police were brushed aside by Colonel Gaddafi’s fearsome female bodyguards in their figure-hugging green uniforms as he made his triumphal appearance at the head of a cavalcade of 70 armoured vehicles.
There was little danger of him running out of money to hurl at bystanders on his 218-mile drive from Lilongwe, the government capital, to the commercial centre at Blantyre, because one of the cars in his entourage was reported to be stuffed with $6 million (£3,800,000) in cash.
His hosts knew better than to question why Colonel Gaddafi also needed to bring his own mobile hospital, 600 security personnel and a vehicle carrying a jamming device, which played havoc with Malawi’s telephone system.
He paused long enough to admire troupes of dancing girls and allowed himself to be photographed alongside strategically placed placards proclaiming him “The Champion of African Unity”.