DAKAR (Reuters) - African nations should join forces to create a one-million-strong army to protect the continent and confront outsiders like NATO and China, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Tuesday.
Gaddafi, well known for his forthright rhetoric, has acquired growing influence in Africa but his ambition to build a united states of Africa is not shared by the continent's biggest powers.
"National militaries alone cannot save countries. Africa should have one army with one million soldiers," Gaddafi said in a speech in the Senegalese capital.
He said the joint force would "guard the borders and seas, protect Africa's independence and confront NATO, China, France, Britain and other countries."
Speaking at an event called the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, Gaddafi also attacked opponents of his long-standing proposal for a unified African government.
"They should leave home, abandon their countries and go and live in the capitals of the capitalist, imperialist countries which once occupied Africa," he said in his speech.
Gaddafi has been pushing for an African unity government for years, saying it is the only way Africa can develop without Western interference.
His ideas have had a sympathetic response in some states, helped by his reputation in parts of the continent as champion of the developing world and also by the millions of dollars in aid his oil-exporting country gives to Africa.
But many African leaders, especially in the bigger economies, are skeptical. They say they cannot be expected to cede sovereignty to an African bloc only a few decades after wresting it from their colonial rulers.
(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; writing by Christian Lowe; editing by Tim Pearce)