News / Africa

Gadhafi Holds On to Popularity in Sahel

Moammar Gadhafi (2008 file photo)
Moammar Gadhafi (2008 file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +

Despite his ouster by insurgents, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi continues to maintain some popularity in Africa's Sahel region following years of Libyan investment and the perception that Tripoli's new leaders are more interested in Europe.

Hunted at home, Colonel Gadhafi is far more welcome south of Libya in Sahelian countries were he has invested millions of dollars in public and private projects. A convoy of Gadhafi supporters was reported to cross into Niger Monday, and Burkina Faso offered asylum to the ousted Libyan leader, though a government spokesman withdrew the offer on Tuesday.

Shehu Sani, the president of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria and the author of the book Civilian Dictators of Africa, says Colonel Gadhafi is still well regarded by a generation of Africans who have benefited from his patronage.

“Gadhafi has invested a lot of Libyan money in improving the human conditions of people in countries like Niger and Burkina Faso," said Sani. "In northern parts of Nigeria, there are thousands of young people who have been offered scholarships over the years by the Gadhafi regime to study in Libya and in some countries in the Middle East and around the world.”

Colonel Gadhafi was long the single largest financier of the African Union as well as the Organization of African Unity before it. He used Libya's oil wealth to support neighboring countries in debt and, Sani says, now looks set to collect on much of that goodwill.

“The attachment and the offer being given by governments in West Africa, especially that of Burkina Faso, has to do with the fact that it was Gadhafi who sustained those governments for a very long time," said Sani. "And now it is the time for me to also show appreciation by coming to your own aid at your moment of need.”

Thousands of migrant workers from Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana found work in Libya when they were unable to reach Europe. For many in the Sahel, Sani says those remittances have obscured Colonel Gadhafi's abuses at home.

“Now there is that emotional, psychological, and economic attachment to the Gadhafi regime over the years," said Sani. "Because of that his evil, in quotes, in his country is being ignored.”

The Gadhafi regime was particularly close to Tuareg nomads from Niger and Mali, many of whom joined his military and are now thought to be part of the advance team preparing his exile.

Revenge attacks against Africans have raised concerns about Libya's new leaders.  Sani says the National Transitional Council appears to be far more involved with its European and NATO backers than it does with the African Union and Sahelian countries with whom the Gadhafi regime established close relations.

“It is unpopular because the images of black Africans being shown to be arrested and tortured by members of the ruling rebel government there is sending a lot bad signals," he said. "What the rebel government needs to do now is extend the hands of friendship to those countries in the Sahel and those countries that were also benefiting from Gadhafi.  Without that, the stability and peace of Libya will never be guaranteed.”

Given the Gadhafi regime's long-standing ties with rebel groups across the Sahel, Sani says Tripoli's new leaders must move quickly to prevent Gadhafi aides from using that network against them.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid