A prominent member of Niger’s ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya) says a delegation from Libya’s transitional authority will soon visit Niger to question the son of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Sonny Iro, the party’s communications director, says Niamey is unlikely to extradite Saadi Gadhafi to Libya. Officials of the Niger government recently had discussions about the possible extradition of Mr. Gadhafi’s son as well as some of his loyalists who are seeking refuge in the West African nation.
“Our government accepted that when the delegation of Libya arrives in our country, they can meet and talk to Gadhafi’s son,” said Iro.
Niger has so far been unwilling to disclose the location of the young Gadhafi and has also turned down appeals to extradite him.
Iro says Niger abides by international rules, which he said allow Niamey to extradite any person or group of people to a legitimately elected government. However, ruling party officials say Niamey is not likely to return Saadi Gadhafi to Tripoli because elections did not bring the new government to power.
“Our country is going to respect [international] regulations and also the regulations of our country. As long as there is a democratic authority and a legitimate government, then [our government] can hand over any person to [the] legitimate government,” said Iro.
Residents in northern Niger recently expressed concern that hundreds of Tuaregs from Libya are returning home with sophisticated weapons. The Tuaregs are suspected of being part of the Libyan army and loyalists who fought for deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The former Libyan government had close diplomatic relations with Niamey during Gadhafi’s four-decade rule.
Iro rejected speculation that his overthrow and the arrival of Gadhafi loyalists in Niger are causing tension between Tripoli and Niamey.
“There are good relations between our government and the new authority in Libya. We don’t have any problem or conflict,” said Iro.
He said Niger has officially recognized Libya’s Transitional National Council (NTC). But, the main opposition National Movement for the Society of Development (MNSD-Nassara) party is accusing the government of confusing Nigeriens after recognizing the NTC.