News / Africa

Gadhafi Loyalists Flee in Convoy to Niger

A rebel fighter checks a rifle at a checkpoint between Tarhouna and Bani Walid. Moammar Gadhafi is determined to fight his way back to power, the toppled dictator's spokesman said but a large convoy of his soldiers has apparently deserted, crossing the Li
A rebel fighter checks a rifle at a checkpoint between Tarhouna and Bani Walid. Moammar Gadhafi is determined to fight his way back to power, the toppled dictator's spokesman said but a large convoy of his soldiers has apparently deserted, crossing the Li

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Reports that a large convoy of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters has fled Libya for Niger have angered many in the Libyan capital.   Citizens want to see their former leader and those around him facing justice at home.

A convoy of some 200 armored vehicles is said to have crossed into Niger from southern Libya late Monday, possibly via Algeria.  As the reports spread, so, too, did speculation that some of the Gadhafi loyalists may be headed on to Burkina Faso, which has offered safe haven to the ousted leader.

Gadhafi's longstanding ties to Niger's Tuareg

Moammar Gadhafi has longstanding ties to Tuareg nomads in Niger, the country entered by a convoy of pro-Gadhafi forces late Monday.

Colonel Gadhafi once supported a Tuareg rebellion in northern Niger, and hundreds of former Tuareg rebels have fought for him against Libyan insurgents.

The Tuareg are based in the eastern Sahara, mainly in Niger and Mali. Tuareg fighters have staged uprisings in both countries over the years in a bid for greater autonomy.

In the past decade, Colonel Gadhafi pushed Libya toward closer ties with other African countries, and used his oil money to forge tighter relationships with the continent's leaders.

Some African countries continue to recognize Colonel Gadhafi as Libya's leader. Niger's government, however, has recognized the anti-Gadhafi National Transitional Council as the country's legitimate authority.

Burkina Faso has straddled the line on events in Libya, recognizing the National Transitional Council, but also willing to flout its obligation to the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Gadhafi on war crimes.

Jalal al Galal, a spokesman for the provisional authorities, says the NTC wants Gadhafi to stay in Libya.

"The NTC has made it very clear all along that they requested from all the neighboring countries not to aid and abet criminals on the escape.  We don't know the content of the convoy.  It could be gold.  It could be money.  It could be members of his family.  We hope that it is not members of his family and we hope it is not him," he said.

Gadhafi's whereabouts remained unknown Tuesday and early reports that he may have planned to join the convoy appear unfounded.  Late Monday, his spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, also on in hiding, said the former leader remained in Libya.

Officials in Niger are quoted as saying the convoy was smaller than reported, and insisted Gadhafi was not in it.

Libyans were quick to condemn any possible escape of their former leader or his supporters.  In Tripoli's central Martyr's Square, Fawzi Jobran, an accountant, said Mr. Gadhafi and his inner circle must be held accountable.

"He must be in front of the Libyan people here.  It's not fair," he said. "He must bring the mafia -- those criminals -- to stay here."

Nearby, Yusef, who did not give his last name, echoed that sentiment. "For the trial, I prefer, and I pray to Allah, it will be in Libya. Because in The Hague, there will be a lot of respect [for Gadhafi].  He will not feel suffering.  But in Libya, he will know how suffering we were," Yusef stated.

Several members of Gadhafi's immediate family have already taken refuge in neighboring Algeria.  The incident also prompted anger from Libya's provisional authorities.

The possible movement of key ex-officials out of Libya comes as the NTC grapples with taking control of the last remaining Gadhafi-held towns.   Forces loyal to the NTC continued to mass outside Bani Walid and Sirte Tuesday, giving his supporters until Saturday to lay down their arms or face an attack.  Negotiations with tribal representatives and Gadhafi supporters have been held on and off for days.

Bani Walid tribal leader Abdul Qader Ganyeh was optimistic a confrontation could be avoided.

Ganyeh says 90 percent of the people in the town are for a peaceful solution, and "want to be part of Libya."

The provisional leaders have also been making headway on other, practical matters.  Much of Tripoli now has running water again, the supply of electricity is becoming less sporadic, and the mood looking forward remains upbeat.

Even Yusef, the man who wanted Gadhafi to suffer, showed his sense of humor was intact, riffing on the former leader's famous vow to hunt down rebels street by street, house by house, alleyway by alleyway.

"We will build our country from street to street, from house to house, zenga zenga ["alley to alley"],  And this will take not a long time," Yusef said.

But he adds, once more, he really wants Gadhafi found.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid