Gadhaffi angers Nigerians

March 29, 2010 12:00 am

, TRIPOLI, Mar 29 – Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi, who enraged Abuja after suggesting Nigeria be partitioned between Muslims and Christians, has now proposed the country is carved into "many" ethnic states, a report said Monday.

"In fact, Nigeria\’s problems cannot be resolved by dividing the country into two states, Christian and Muslim," Gadhafi was quoted as saying by the official Jana news agency.

Like the former Yugoslavia, he said, Nigeria comprises "other populations who want independence" without religious considerations.

He cited "the Yoruba people in the east and south who demand independence, the Ibo people in the west and south" as well as the Ijaws.

"The model that best fits Nigeria, which comprises many ethnic groups, is Yugoslavia" which was divided into six countries, including Kosovo whose independence has not been unanimously recognised.

The Libyan leader said earlier this month Nigeria should be partitioned between the Christian and Muslim communities to end its sectarian violence.

He proposed that it should follow the partition model of Pakistan, which was born in 1947 after the Muslim minority of predominantly Hindu India founded their own homeland, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Gadhafi, until recently head of the African Union, had suggested a Christian homeland in the south with Lagos as its capital and a Muslim homeland in the north with Abuja as its principal city.

The remarks enraged Nigeria which recalled its ambassador to Tripoli over what it said was Gadhafi\’s "irresponsible utterances" which had made a mockery of his calls for African integration and unity.

The Libyan leader\’s comments had "diminished his status and credibility," said foreign ministry spokesman Ozo Nwobu, reading from a strongly worded statement which expressed the government\’s "very serious concern".

The statement also accused Kadhafi of "theatrics and grandstanding at every auspicious occasion".

Gadhafi\’s earlier comments came after several hundred people were killed early March in sectarian violence in Nigeria\’s central Plateau State.

Plateau State, with Jos as its capital, is the de facto buffer between the predominantly Muslim north and the largely Christian and animist south.

Nigeria\’s 140 million population is almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians.


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