Last updated: 13 December, 2012

Libya’s prime minister seeks regional meeting to secure borders

Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on Thursday called for a meeting to secure regional borders, as slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s son shelters in Niger.

“We want to hold a meeting in Libya with Niger, Mali, Chad and Sudan to reach an agreement to secure the borders,” Zeidan said after talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

“Libya will not support armed opposition groups and will not allow terrorists to cross the border supporting armed opposition groups which historically belonged to the Kadhafi regime,” he said.

Zeidan’s visit to Sudan came after a stop in Niger, where on Wednesday he reiterated a call for the extradition of Kadhafi’s son Saadi.

Libya’s neighbour Niger granted Saadi Kadhafi asylum in September 2011.

Saadi, who found shelter in Niger when his father’s regime was crumbling, was best known as the head of Libya’s football federation and a player who paid his way into Italy’s top-flight football league.

Niger justified the move on “humanitarian” grounds, arguing it had insufficient guarantees Libya’s new rulers would give Saadi Kadhafi a fair trial.

Around 30 senior officials from Kadhafi’s regime are believed to have crossed into Niger at the same time, but the authorities in Niamey have not said how many remain on their soil.

When Kadhafi’s regime fell last year to a popular uprising backed by NATO warplanes, his Tuareg hired guns fled south across the Sahara to their former homes in Mali and Niger in heavily armed convoys of off-road pick-up trucks.

The scattering of arms and fighters across the region after the Libyan conflict has created security problems, especially in Mali, where a Tuareg rebellion led to a military coup and an ensuing power vacuum that has enabled Islamist groups to seize control of the north of the country.