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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid