Why Niger is so ambivalent about Qaddafi loyalists' arrival(Read article summary)
Qaddafi's influence in the region remains strong, despite Niger's recognition of the rebel government, making it difficult for the government and people to make up their minds.
Several pieces in the last few days have reported on the different sentiments that exist in Niger regarding the presence of former Libyan ruler Col. Muammar Qaddafiâ€™s lieutenants and supporters in Niger. The ambivalence that characterizes the Nigerien populationâ€™s feelings toward the Libyan conflict also seems to extend to the Nigerien government, whose policies toward post-Qaddafi Libya are somewhat mixed.
[A water-seller] says Niger has â€śno choice but to host them because they are Muslimsâ€ť.
â€śIslam says one cannot deliver a Muslim brother to their enemies,â€ť he says.
â€śBut we fear that weapons might enter our country along with former Tuareg rebels,â€ť he adds.
These different attitudes among the population add to the pressure the Libyan civil war has put on Nigerâ€™s government, which is trying to balance its welcome for Qaddafi supporters against its cognizance of the new political reality in the region. Niger has recognized the rebel Transitional National Council in Libya, but sheltering Qadhafiâ€™s lieutenants sends a message that Nigerâ€™s memories of Qaddafiâ€™s influence remain strong. Yet again, Nigerâ€™s government is deeply concerned by the arrival of Qaddafi supporters, and is not only trying to, as VOA reports, step up security on the border, but is also keeping Qaddafiâ€™s son Saadi â€śunder a kind of house arrestâ€ť in Niamey. The Nigerien authorities, in other words, are treading carefully in an attempt to stay in the good graces of the new Libyan rulers to the north, pro-Qadhafi factions in their own country, and the international community.