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

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

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More