TRIPOLI, Libya - Libya demanded Niger hand over one of Moammar Khadafy’s sons - who is under house arrest in the neighboring African nation - after he warned in a television interview that his homeland was facing a new uprising.
Mohammed Hareizi, spokesman for the ruling National Transitional Council, said yesterday that Niger must extradite al-Saadi Khadafy and other former regime officials to “preserve its relationship and interests’’ in Libya.
The demand came days before the first anniversary of the Feb. 17 start of the uprising that led to months of civil war and the eventual ouster and death of the longtime Libyan leader. Al-Saadi Khadafy and more than 30 other loyalists fled to Niger after Tripoli fell to rebels in September.
Niger Justice Minister Morou Amadou confirmed the demand had been received but said Niger’s government has refused to extradite al-Saadi and the others to Libya because they risk being killed. However, Amadou said the government would agree to extradite al-Saadi to the Hague upon request by the International Criminal Court.
Khadafy’s son told Al Arabiya TV in a telephone interview that supporters of his father’s ousted regime “are suffering tremendously’’ in Libyan prisons at the hands of the country’s new rulers. He also said his return to Libya was imminent.
He said he is in contact with people in Libya on a daily basis and claimed “70 percent of Libyans are unhappy with the current circumstances. They are ready to cooperate to change these conditions.’’
Khadafy’s son pointed to the proliferation of weapons in the oil-rich nation as many former rebels have refused to lay down arms. He said Libyans were tired of widespread chaos.
“There is an uprising that will happen everywhere in the country,’’ he told the station. “This will be a new popular uprising.’’
He called the new leadership a group of gangsters who are unable to control the various militias in the country. But he also said he was in touch with members of the transitional council, which is governing the country until presidential elections can be held, and with militia members.
The transitional council denied yesterday that it has been in touch with Khadafy or any of the former regime officials.
The interview infuriated Libya’s leadership. Hareizi said the head of the transitional council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, and Libya’s foreign minister had discussed the issue with their counterparts in Niger and “stressed that they will not tolerate the issue and they will take firm measures.’’ He didn’t elaborate.
Al-Saadi Khadafy’s comments echoed complaints about the state of Libya as the new leadership struggles to impose its authority over the desert nation since the autocratic leader’s regime was overthrown and he was captured and killed on Oct. 20.