Colonel Gaddafi is the Arab world's longest-serving leader, having ruled oil-rich Libya since a coup in 1969.
He has always insisted that the country is run by a series of peoples' committees, though most outside observers believe it is a police state with him firmly in control, the BBC's Jon Leyne reports.
The Middle East has recently seen a wave of protests fuelled by discontent over unemployment, rising living costs, corruption and autocratic leaderships.
This began with the overthrow of Tunisia's leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in January. Last week, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned.
In recent days there have also been anti-government demonstrations in Yemen, Bahrain, and Iran.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment