Algeria defends decision to shelter Gaddafi kin

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 04, 2011 1:23 PM

ALGIERS, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Algeria's prime minister defended on Sunday his country's decision to shelter members of Muammar Gaddafi's family, describing it as a humanitarian case.

The ousted Libyan leader's wife Safia, daughter Aisha and sons Mohammed and Hannibal entered Algeria on August 29 after the Libyan leader was ousted from power in a six-month rebellion. Aisha gave birth to a girl hours after crossing the border.

Libya's interim rulers have criticized Algeria's decision to shelter Gaddafi's family as an "act of aggression."

"They are Algeria's responsibility," Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said of the Gaddafi family members in Algeria, describing the case as humanitarian.

"The Libyans themselves ... asked us to consider them as Algerians," he added, without specifying which Libyans had made such a request.

Defending the decision to offer refuge to Gaddafi's family, he said members of toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's family had been taken in by other countries. When Saudi Arabia took in ousted Tunisian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this year, that move did not create "such a storm," he said.

Algeria is the only one of Libya's North African neighbors yet to recognize the National Transitional Council, whose fighters have taken control of the capital Tripoli and much of the rest of the country, as Libya's new government.

Algeria will recognize Libya's new leaders when they establish a representative government, its foreign minister said in an interview this week.

(Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Peter Graff)