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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs