One of the sons of the fugitive Libyan leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi, has arrived in neighbouring Niger.
Niger’s justice minister said Saadi Gaddafi had been in a convoy which was
heading towards the capital, Niamey.
Col Gaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown. He has said he will die in Libya.
Anti-Gaddafi troops now control most of Libyan territory, including the
capital Tripoli. They have been trying to seize several cities controlled by
loyalists, including Bani Walid and Sirte.
While the National Transitional Council’s forces search Libya for missing Muammar, more of his military leaders and forces are heading south into Niger.
Niger government officials in Agdez have said that General Ali
Kana, a Tuareg in charge of Col Gaddafi’s southern forces, has now arrived there. They were in a small convoy reported by the BBC to contain two generals and four other senior officials.
Last week, the NTC forces last week gave Gaddafi loyalists an ultimatum to stop fighting by Saturday or face an all-out assault.
There are currently tense stand-offs between Council forces and groups loyal to the former leader at Bani Walid, Jufra, Sabha and Sirte.
The stream of former fighters and officials into Niger could be an attempt to get men and materiel out before the Saturday deadline, or is perhaps a regrouping of forces to prepare for an insurgency. Some might just be running away to escape retribution. In the confused situation in Libya, no one knows for certain.
If Gaddafi can stay at large, get forces, finance and weaponry out of reach of NTC forces, he could bid his time and hope for splits or conflicts between the various diverse groups who came together to oust him. This might give him and opening and weaken his enemies.
He still appears to have the loyalty of Tuarge fighters who he has used in his regional destablisation efforts over the last forty years and mercenaries have never been hard to find in West Africa. So it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he could still pose a threat, or at the very least be a real irritant in Libya and the western Sahel region as a whole.
See also: Africa Confidential on Gaddafi’s options – http://www.africa-confidential.com/article/id/4163/The_Gadaffi_clan_scatters