The Times – Gaddafi interpreter ‘collapsed during UN speech’, by James Bone in New York

The translator broke down as the man once denounced by Ronald Reagan as the “mad man” of the desert embarked on a tirade about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an explanation of his call for a single-state solution called “Isratine”.

According to the New York Post, the Libyan translator shouted: “I just can’t take it any more.”

Rules specify that UN translators only provide live interpretation for 40 minutes at a time, and they are used to seamless handovers.

But Libya insisted on using its own translators for English and French rather than one of the 25 world-class Arabic translators at the UN. Libyan diplomats said that Colonel Gaddafi would be speaking a dialect on Wednesday that only his staff could understand. In the event, he spoke standard Arabic.


The Libyan translator was bailed out by the UN’s Arabic section chief, Rasha Ajalyqeen, who stepped in without missing a beat. She provided English translation for the remainder of the speech, but appeared to be chuckling at Mr Gaddafi’s rambling language.

ghaddafi-unEven the picture is hilarious. The caption, which also made me laugh:

Ali Treki, former Libyan Foreign Minister, shows the strain as Colonel Gaddafi gets into the swing of things

And in the article:

Mr Gaddafi’s personal translator was not the only Libyan official who found the Brother Leader’s speech taxing.

Ali Treki, a former Libyan foreign minister who is this year’s General Assembly president, sat on the dais behind Mr Gaddafi holding his head in his hands.

I love how Bone refers to him as Brother Leader like that. Mr Bone, you’ll remember, is the guy that was told off by Kofi Annan all those years ago. Love that guy.