Britain Warns Africa Not To Shelter Libya Fugitives

“We’ve been very active in reminding other countries in Africa of their responsibilities … to apprehend and to hand over to Libya or the ICC any of those people who go onto their territory,” Hague said in Tripoli.

“We will continue to assist in looking for them.”

Hague did not say what form the help would take. British air power helped prevent Gaddafi crush the uprising against him and the forces that toppled him said British special forces were on the ground. Britain does not comment on their whereabouts.

“We’ve made representations to the governments of Niger and Burkina Faso in particular but we don’t know where Gaddafi is, so we can’t solve that one at the moment,” Hague told Reuters en route to his next stop in Morocco.

Hague, in Libya for the appointment of a new British ambassador, also said he had raised the issue of the alleged mistreatment of prisoners by Libya’s new interim rulers, who captured Tripoli in August, ending Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.

“They say there have been some cases of that, they are determined to act very strongly about it,” Hague said.

Rights group Amnesty International said last week Libya’s new rulers were in danger of repeating human rights abuses commonplace during Gaddafi’s era, including torture.

The new government believes Gaddafi is in hiding somewhere in Libya’s vast desert, while some close relatives and senior allies have crossed into neighbouring Chad and Algeria.


National Transitional Council (NTC) forces are still battling pockets of pro-Gaddafi resistance in Sirte, holding up the country’s return to something approaching normality.

Hague played down concerns over the potential for conflict between armed groups that converged on Tripoli to overthrow Gaddafi and have stayed on.

“Of course we do want to see the various militias all brought under one central system and central control and I think that will happen when a transitional government is formed. But I think they are all working together now, and so there is no immediate cause for alarm about that,” he said.

Britain was helping to destroy hundreds of so-called manpads, shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, stockpiled by Gaddafi’s forces which Western governments fear could fall into the hands of Middle East militants, Hague said.

London would also soon send the final shipment of millions of dollars worth of Libyan banknotes that had been printed in Britain before the conflict but not delivered due to sanctions.

“We will discuss with them the unfreezing of further assets as they need them and as they are ready to use them. They are actually not ready to make use of them yet,” Hague said.

He said there were around 10 billion pounds ($15.7 billion) of Libyan assets still frozen in Britain.

Speaking later at a press conference in Rabat after talks with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri, Hague welcomed constitutional reforms taking place in Morocco.

He said the Arab Spring uprisings had increased the importance of resolving a long dispute over the status of Western Sahara.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975, and since then it has been the subject of a dispute between the Moroccan government and the Polisario Front, an independence movement backed by neighbouring Algeria.

“The unresolved question (over Western Sahara) of course has a negative impact on the region and doesn’t help effective regional cooperation,” Hague said.Reuters