London: Had it not been for Berlusconi, Gaddafi would not have become the leader of African Union in 2009. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, embroiled in several sex scandals, is said to have helped Col Muammar Gaddafi gain the African Union's leadership two years back by arranging to send two escort women for an opponent of the Libyan leader, a media report said.

According to Nuri Al Mismari, who was Col Gaddafi's diplomatic chief for 35 years before he went into exile in Paris last year, an unidentified African leader was opposing the election of the Libyan leader in 2009, but the situation was "resolved with an unorthodox solution".

"Berlusconi helped resolve the situation and secure Gaddafi's position by sending in two beautiful escorts to the leader of the African nation in question.

"This had the desired effect. The leader was convinced and he gave his vote to Gaddafi -- and from here is born the expression 'bunga bunga' that indicates salacious, adventurous women," a newspapaer quoted Al Mismari as saying in an interview with a Arab newspaper in Paris.

Col Gaddafi was the surprise choice as leader of the 53-nation African Union in February 2009 much to the unease of countries such as Tanzania and Nigeria.

Al Mismari said he was "ashamed" to have worked for the regime, but said Western leaders should also shoulder some of the blame for treating Col Gaddafi as they did.

"Everybody was kissing his hand -- heads of state, heads of government. They don't feel shame now? They'd guards of honour for Gaddafi when he came to their countries. They brought out the red carpet for him. They don't feel shame?" the former close aide of Col Gaddafi said.

Col Gaddafi has visited Italy twice in the last two years and was greeted with a huge fanfare while the Italian PM is facing prosecution in Milan for sex scandals surrounding him.

(Agencies)