Robert Mugabe on Wednesday accused the UN Security Council of wielding an “insatiable appetite for war” as he condemned NATO’s campaign that helped topple Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

The 88-year-old firebrand critic of the West told the UN General Assembly that NATO’s “military hegemony” in Libya showed how the alliance’s members are “inspired by the arrogant belief that they are the most powerful among us.”

He began by departing from his prepared speech to respond to US President Barack Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday in which he paid tribute to his slain envoy to Libya, Chris Stevens, who was killed in a terrorist raid on the US Consulate in Benghazi on September 11.

Mugabe told world leaders: “May I preface my speech with reference to the most glowing and most moving speech we listened to from the President of the United States, the import of which was to get us to condemn the tragic death of the US ambassador to Libya. I’m sure we were all moved, we agree it was a tragic death and we condemn it.

“But a year ago, we saw a barbaric and brutal death of the head of state of Libya, a representative of his country, a member of the African Union. That death occurred in the context in which NATO was operating supposedly in order to protect civilians.

“As we in spirit join the United States in condemning Stevens’ death, shall the United States also join us in condemning that barbaric death of the head of state of Libya, Gaddafi?”

Mugabe said Gaddafi’s death was “a great loss to Africa, a tragic loss to Africa”.

“The [NATO] mission was strictly to protect civilians, but it turned out that there was a hunt, a brutal hunt for Gaddafi and his family. They were sought; NATO caught up with them and they suffered the brutal deaths that we know about.”

The African Union’s peacemaking efforts in Libya were “defied, ignored and humiliated,” he added.

“May we urge the international community to collectively nip this dangerous and unwelcome development before it festers,” he told world leaders.

NATO launched military strikes last year after the Security Council passed two resolutions on protecting civilians from Gaddafi’s crackdown to put down a rebellion. The new Libyan government and the West have hailed the campaign but Russia, China and others say now that they were tricked into accepting the action.

The Security Council ignores attempts to peacefully end disputes, Mugabe stormed.

“In contrast there appears to be an insatiable appetite for war, embargoes, sanctions and other punitive actions,” he said.

Mugabe, whose country still faces sanctions by many western countries, also said the UN’s “responsibility to protect” concept had been “seriously abused” and trespassed on the sovereignty of individual states.

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