Libya's southern neighbors plan for life after Qaddafi
Bearing the brunt of the exodus of Libyan refugees, several countries in the Sahel region – including Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, and Chad – have called on Qaddafi to step down.
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To say there is an emerging Sahelian consensus against Qaddafi would be going too far. I have not seen a statement from Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure calling for Qaddafi’s resignation, nor to my knowledge has Niger's newly elected President Mahamadou Issoufou gone beyond calling for a solution to the crisis (without stating a preference on who rules Libya). President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, according to one source, has continued to proclaim solidarity with Qaddafi. And further east, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has not demanded Qaddafi’s ouster either. So if the baseline position among Sahelian leaders three or four months ago was support for Qaddafi, or neutrality, many of them have not moved. But the movement that has occurred in the region has been toward breaking with the Colonel.Skip to next paragraph
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Agence France-Presse has discussed the Senegalese and Mauritanian statements in the context of a larger African shift away from Qaddafi. Attention to the Sahelian context is also important, though, as Qaddafi’s departure could affect the Sahel more than any other region in Africa. The calculated risks that Wade, Abdel Aziz, and Mr. Deby are taking indicate that the political landscape in the Sahel has already shifted even though Qaddafi still clings to power. These decisions also suggest some confidence on the part of Sahelian leaders that siding with Qaddafi’s foes is a better bet than staying neutral or continuing to support the Colonel on the chance that he might weather the storm. If and when Qadhafi does go, the relationships forged in this time of crisis, both between the Sahelian countries and the rebels as well as among the Sahelian countries themselves, will influence the direction of regional relations in the future.