Gaddafi`s daughter gives birth in Algeria

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 09:43

Algeria: Moamer Gaddafi`s daughter gave birth to a girl in Algeria Tuesday as Algiers said it decided to grant safe haven to the ousted Libyan leader`s wife and three children for "strictly humanitarian reasons."

"Aisha gave birth very early this morning. She had a little girl. Mother and daughter are doing fine," said a government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani insisted that Aisha, her brother Hannibal, their mother Safiya, Gaddafi`s second wife, and the fugitive leader`s eldest son Mohammed were allowed into the country "for strictly humanitarian reasons."

Libya`s rebel National Transitional Council criticised the announcement from Algeria, which has not recognised the NTC as Libya`s new authority, amid speculation that it backed Gaddafi throughout the months-long conflict and is troubled by his downfall.

The newborn girl was named Safiya, after their grandmother, according to the daily Ennahar, which said the family crossed via the Tinkarine border post in the far south and was flown 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest to Djanet, where Aisha was admitted to hospital.

The family was placed under house arrest in the desert town, the newspaper said.

"We have informed the Secretary General of the United Nations, the president of the (UN) Security Council and the president of the executive council of the NTC," Belani said in an e-mail to AFP.

He was commenting on a request issued by the NTC for the return of the Gaddafi family members.

When the Algerian foreign ministry on Monday announced the arrival of the Gaddafi family, the rebels` justice minister Mohammed al-Allagya told AFP that Algerian authorities would be asked to send them back to Libya.

NTC spokesman Mahmud Shammam, said on Monday evening that the NTC had been told by Algeria of the family`s arrival.

"We`d like those persons to come back," Shammam said, adding that Algeria had given them a "pass" to go to a third country.

"Saving Gaddafi`s family is not an act we welcome and understand," he told a press conference in Tripoli late on Monday.

"We can assure our neighbours that we want better relations with them ... but we are determined to arrest and try the Gaddafi family and Gaddafi himself," Shammam went on, saying the rebels guaranteed a "fair trial."

Algeria stands apart from other north African nations like Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia which have recognised the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, leading some among the rebels to accuse Algiers of supporting the Gaddafi regime.

Algiers is concerned about the "very present Islamist dimension" at the heart of the NTC," explained Kader Abderrahim, a professor and Islam expert at the University of California.

Traumatised by the civil war which ended in 2002 with some 200,000 dead, Algiers has for months been on the alert for a spillover of violence from Libya with which it shares a 1,000-kilometre border.

With Gaddafi`s whereabouts still a mystery, there has been speculation that he is hiding out among tribal supporters in his birthplace, the coastal town of Sirte.

Rebels say they are negotiating with civic and tribal leaders for Sirte`s peaceful surrender.

Algeria has "since February been accused of supplying military aid to Gaddafi, particularly by providing planes to transport mercenaries," said Didier Le Saout, a North African expert at Paris University.

"Algeria will be the state in the region with the worst relations with the new Libyan authorities."

Mourad Benmehidi, Algeria`s ambassador to the UN, told the New York Times that the spouses of Gaddafi`s two sons and daughter also crossed into Algeria, with several of their children.

Algeria has also closed its borders with Libya in the far south, El Watan newspaper reported on its website, quoting Algerian officials.

Algiers, according to the report, wants to block Gaddafi loyalist fighters from fleeing into Algeria to avoid further straining its ties with the NTC.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 09:43

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