Niger risks local backlash if it delivers Gaddafi son
Niamey: Niger, the West African nation where Libya`s fugitive Saif al-Islam Gaddafi may be headed, risks a backlash from nomad Tuaregs in its north if it follows through on its obligation to hand him over to the International Criminal Court.
Libya`s aid-reliant southern neighbor has vowed to respect commitments to the ICC, but knows that could spark unrest in Saharan areas where a string of past rebellions against the capital were nurtured by Muammar Gaddafi, feted by many in the desert as a hero.
The Hague-based ICC said Gaddafi`s 39-year-old son Saif al-Islam was in contact via intermediaries about surrendering for trial, but it also had information that mercenaries were trying to spirit him to a friendly African nation.
Libyan officials and others involved in the situation have said Saif al-Islam was apparently anxious not to be captured by Libyan interim government forces in whose hands his father Muammar Gaddafi was killed more than a week ago.
Niger has declined to comment on statements this past week from local leaders in its remote north that Saif al-Islam was most likely already on its side of the mountain range that straddles its porous border with Algeria and Mali.
A senior official for the northern region of Agadez, which has been a way station for Libyan fugitives including another Gaddafi son Saadi, said on Saturday it had hosted U.S. military representatives for talks on security.
The official, who requested anonymity, declined to say what the talks with the Americans were specifically about, but spoke of escape plans by Saif al-Islam and former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, both wanted by the ICC for war crimes.
"Senussi is being extricated from Mali toward a country that is a non-signatory to the (ICC) convention. I am certain that they will both (Senussi and Saif al-Islam) be extricated by plane, one from Mali, the other from Niger," said the official.
He said there were at least 10 airstrips in the north of Niger near the Libyan border that could be used to whisk Saif al-Islam out of the country.
A member of parliament from northern Mali, Ibrahim Assaleh Ag Mohamed, denied Senussi was in his country and said neither he nor Saif al-Islam would be accepted if they tried to enter.
Help From Mercenaries
Niger like Mali has signed up to the ICC`s statute, but handing over Saif al-Islam would spark anger among northerners who feel remote from the capital Niamey and have long espoused Gaddafi`s vision of a cross-border Saharan people.
"We are ready to hide him wherever needed," Mouddour Barka, a resident of Agadez town, said.
"We are telling the international community to stay out of this business and our own authorities not to hand him over -- otherwise we are ready to go out onto the streets and they will have us to deal with," he added.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters in an interview that communication with Saif al-Islam was being made possible by "intermediaries," despite his remote location.
"There are some people connected with him that are in touch with people connected with us," he said on a visit to Beijing.
"We have some information that there is a mercenary group trying to help him to move to a different country, so we are trying to prevent this activity," said Moreno-Ocampo, adding: "Some of them are South Africans allegedly."
The Gaddafis befriended desert tribes in Niger, Mali and other poor former French colonies in West Africa. Other African countries received Libyan largesse during the 42-year rule of Gaddafi, a self-styled African "king of kings."
France, a backer of February`s revolt against Gaddafi, reminded African states of their obligations to hand Saif al-Islam over to the international court.
"We don`t care whether he goes on foot, by plane, by boat, by car or on a camel, the only thing that matters is that he belongs in the ICC," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.
Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, a swathe of arid states to the south of Libya, are all signatories to the treaty that set up the ICC. Algeria, which took in Saif al-Islam`s mother, sister, brother Hannibal and half-brother Mohammed, is not a signatory. Nor is Sudan or Zimbabwe.
Saif al-Islam was once seen as a liberal reformer, architect of a rapprochement with Western states on whom his father waged proxy guerrilla wars for decades. But he responded with belligerent rhetoric after the revolt erupted in Libya.
The ICC accuses him of hiring mercenaries to carry out a plan, worked out with his father and Senussi, to kill unarmed protesters inspired by "Arab Spring" uprisings elsewhere.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- IAF Mirage fighter plane lands on Yamuna Expressway!
- 'Maggi' under regulatory scanner for excess amount of lead, MSG
- Watch: Michelle Obama's 'Gimme Five' fitness video
- When Subramanian Swamy shocked people at a wedding!
- Mumbaikars join hands to save Pakistani teen with rare illness
- DNA: Analysis of Hurriyat chief Syed Geelani's passport issue
- DNA: Analysis of traffic system of Vancouver, Canada
- Mumbai: Diamond export company denies job to Muslim youth
- Aapke Sitare: Astro prediction for May 21, 2015
- Mirage 2000 fighter jet landing was part of capability demonstration: IAF
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- PM Modi's key campaign team member may join Nitish Kumar
- Woman robbed at gunpoint inside Hyderabad ATM
- Watch: Top 25 Headlines @10 am
- RBSE (rajresults.nic.in) Class 12th science and commerce results 2015: Rajasthan Board Class 12th XII exam results 2015 expected to be announced on May 21
- RBSE (rajresults.nic.in) Class 12th science and commerce results 2015: Rajasthan Board Class 12th XII exam results 2015 to be announced today at 4 PM
- JAC 12th Inter Arts Result 2015: JAC 12th Inter Arts Result 2015 (jharkhandeducation.net) likely to be announced on Thursday May 21 at 1 PM
- CBSE Class 10 Results 2015 to be announced today?
- IAF jet lands on Yamuna expressway
- Check Jharkhand Board jac.nic.in: Class 12th Art Results 2015 declared
- Log on to apeamcet.org AP EAMCET Results 2015: Andhra Pradesh EAMCET Marks and AP EAMCET Ranks 2015 declared
- Andhra Pradesh EAMCET results 2015: Andhra Pradesh EAMCET results to be announced on May 21 at www.apeamcet.org
- Fawad Khan doesn’t want intimate scenes with Sonam Kapoor?
- We hire only non-Muslim candidates, diamond export firm tells Muslim youth
- Is MSG in 'Maggi' noodles harmful for you?
- DHSE (dhsekerala.gov.in) 12th Result 2015: Kerala DHSE Class 12th XII exam results 2015 to be announced on May 21
- Mumbai firm booked for denying Muslim MBA graduate job on religious grounds, probe ordered
- SSLC (tnresults.nic.in) Tenth 10th Results 2015: Tamil Nadu Board Class 10th X Higher Secondary exam results 2015 to be declared on May 21
- 'IAS officer DK Ravi possibly committed suicide, suffered big loss in real estate business'