News / Africa

Gadhafi Holds On to Popularity in Sahel

Moammar Gadhafi (2008 file photo)
Moammar Gadhafi (2008 file photo)

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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs