Tripoli, March 16: Niger has said that it has withdrawn the diplomatic passport from Bashir Saleh Bashir, Qaddafi’s head of staff. . . .[restrict]It gave it to him when it appointed him an advisor to President Mahamadou Issoufou.
According to Niger officials the passport and post were given last December but the news only leaked out this month. Niger claims that Bashir is a Nigerien citizen and that he was born in the northern town of Agadez in 1946.
The decision to hand Bashir a passport and employ him as an advisor has caused fury in Libya, coming on top of Niger’s decision to give asylum to Saadi Qaddafi and its refusal to extradite him. It was seen as confirmation of Niger’s continued hostility to the new Libya.
“We have annulled the document following instructions,” a senior Niger police officer has been quoted. He would not say where the instructions came from.
Another senior officer was quoted by Reuters saying that the decision to withdraw the passport was because Niger wanted to rebuild its damaged relations with Libya.
“I believe this decision is aimed at defusing the tension between our leaders and those of the new Libya. You know that Libya is still furious that our authorities had given asylum to people close to Qaddafi, including his son Saadi,” the officer is reported as saying.
Bashir, was one of Qaddafi’s most powerful advisers. He was, for years, president of the multi billion-dollar Libyan Arab African Investment Company. It invested in more than 25 African countries. Libyan officials are now trying to unravel and reclaim its assets.
It is thought that Bashir still controls owns a significant proportion of Libya’s African investments.
Niger’s government last month warned its citizens not to travel to Libya saying that they were being deliberately targeted by Libyans because of their nationality. [/restrict]