Algeria tells its Gaddafi guests: keep out of politics

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 27, 2011 2:10 PM
Algeria tells its Gaddafi guests: keep out of politics

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria has ordered members of Muammar Gaddafi's family in exile on its territory to stay out of politics, after Gaddafi's daughter Aisha angered the new Libyan government by telling the media her father was still fighting to hold on to power.

"It is clear that the message has been passed on to Aisha and the other members of the family that they should, from now on, respect their status as guests in Algeria and remove themselves completely from any political action," Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci was quoted as saying by Algeria's official APS news agency.

Aisha Gaddafi, her brothers Hannibal and Mohammed, their mother Safia and several other family members fled Libya in late August after rebel fighters took control of most of the country.

Algeria's government said it allowed them to enter on humanitarian grounds, but Libya's new rulers, the National Transitional Council (NTC), accused Algeria of an "act of aggression."

Last week Syrian-based Arrai TV, which gives sympathetic coverage to Muammar Gaddafi and his family, broadcast a message from Aisha.

"I reassure you about your leader, oh Libyans," said Aisha, a 35-year-old lawyer. "He is well and thank God his spirits are high. He is carrying his weapon and fighting along with his sons at the fronts."

That broadcast prompted civil society activists in Tripoli to go to the Algerian embassy and submit a protest petition.

Algeria has had rocky relations with the NTC since the start of Libya's rebellion in February.

The NTC accused Algeria's government of backing Gaddafi in the civil war, a charge it denied, while Algiers said the NTC was not committed to tackling the threat to security from al Qaeda's north African wing.

In a step toward repairing relations, Algeria last week said it recognized the NTC as the legitimate government, becoming the last of the Libya's neighbors to do so.

(Reporting By Christian Lowe and Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Louise Ireland)