Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Following Saadi Gaddafi’s inflammatory comments earlier this week that a pro-Gaddafi uprising in Libya is “imminent”, sources within the ruling Libyan National Transitional Council [NTC] have stressed that “the NTC may close Libya’s borders with Niger if its government does not take strong measures to stop Saadi Gaddafi from threatening the Libyan revolution”.
An NTC official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Tripoli on the condition of anonymity, revealed that “NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil had a long telephone conversation with Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou during which he asked him to either silence Saadi or hand him over to Libya for trial on charges of war crimes committed during the popular revolution, which broke out on 10 February, 2011, and resulted in the ouster the regime of the former president.”
Speaking from Niger last week, Saadi Gaddafi warned of an imminent uprising in Libya and claimed to be in regular contact with people inside the country who were unhappy with the authorities following the ouster of the Gaddafi regime.
Gaddafi said that this uprising “is not going to be limited to some areas…it will cover all the regions of the Jamahiriya, and this uprising does exist and I am following and witnessing this as it grows bigger by the day.” He added “there will be a great uprising in the south, in the east, in the centre and in the west. All the regions of Libya will witness the new popular uprising.”
Saadi Gaddafi, who is a former football player, called on the Libyan people to revolt against the Libyan revolution that ended Gaddafi rule. He said “the NTC is not a legitimate body…and is not in the control of the militias” adding “we call on all to be ready for the coming uprising.”
He added “The situation of the [Libyan] people is deteriorating. I am in contact with the militias, the tribes, the NTC and the national army. I can confirm that more than 70 percent of those who are in Libya now whether they support the 17 February (revolution) or not…are not satisfied with the situation and are ready to cooperate to change this.”
Saadi Gaddafi also claimed that he would be returning to the country, saying “as for my return, yes I must return to Libya and this will happen at any minute. If I do return I will prevent any revenge.”
Abdullah Nakir, leader of the Libyan rebel’s council in Tripoli called on the Nigerien government to surrender Saadi Gaddafi to Tripoli otherwise the Libyan authorities might take action to deport Nigerien nationals from the country. Nakir stressed that Saadi Gaddafi would be well treated if he surrenders himself to the Libyan authorities.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from his residence in Tripoli, Nakir said “if he [Saadi Gaddafi] does not give himself up, we will arrest him and he will face the same fate as his father.”
Nakir also stressed that Saadi Gaddafi is not an important person in and of himself, as he was one of the first members of the Gaddafi family to flee the country, well before the collapse of the former regime. He said “we think Gaddafi is gullible, by any definition of the world, and we are not paying any attention to him. However he has now fallen under the influence of some people who are under the illusion that it is possible for the Gaddafi regime to return to power in Libya.”
Nakir also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “we have the capability to kidnap him from Niger” adding “we will not allow any threat to our people’s revolution and its future.”
The leader of the Libyan rebel’s council in Tripoli said that he would be closely monitoring the NTC’s actions in this regard, as well as the actions of the Niger government to resolve this issue.
The Libyan News Agency revealed that a telephone conversation took place between Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour Bin Khayal and his Nigerien counterpart Mohamed Bazoum, during which the Nigerien foreign minister apologized to the Libyan government and people for the hostile statements issued by Saadi Gaddafi. However Niger government spokesman Marou Amadou said that his government would not hand Saadi Gaddafi over to Libya at this time, in spite of the fact that Gaddafi’s statements violated the conditions of his presence in the country.
In the same context, sources within the Libyan Foreign Ministry have revealed that “a number of people within the Nigerien Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said that they are very sorry about the statements issued by Saadi Gaddafi, which were a violation of his promise not to undertake any [political] activity.” The sources claimed that the Nigerien government is considering taking “strong” action against Saadi Gaddafi.
NTC official spokesman Dr. Mohamed Nasr al-Harizi stressed that “neither Saadi nor anybody else will raise the Gaddafi banner on Libyan soil” adding “as long as we are alive, he or his family and their supporters, will never be able to challenge the revolution of the Libyan people.”
Al-Harizi also said “it is not surprising that Gaddafi’s son Saadi continue to lie and claim he is in contact with the tribes, the revolutionaries, and the NTC, as well as that he will move to defeat the 17 February Revolution. However, the NTC would like to take this opportunity to stress that it has not contacted and will not contact, meet or negotiate with Saadi Gaddafi or with any former regime official.”
Dozens of Libyans demonstrated outside the Nigerien Embassy in Tripoli earlier this week, chanting “Niger is a safe haven for killers.” The demonstrators demanded Tripoli cut relations with Niger. Civil society organizations in the city of Sabha have also denounced Saadi Gaddafi’s statements at a meeting earlier this week. They called for Libya’s borders with Niger to be closed, and all Nigeriens in Libya to be deported.