Gaddafi Still Wants Nigeria Splits
3/31/2010 3:05:35 PM -
Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi says Nigeria should become several states, despite Nigerian fury after he earlier said it should become two countries.
He said he was wrong to have said earlier this month that Nigeria should be divided into Muslim and Christian areas to end communal clashes.
Instead, he now says several different Nigerian groups want independence.
Nigeria recalled its ambassador to Tripoli after his previous statement, which it branded "irresponsible".
"His theatrics and grandstanding at every auspicious occasion have become too numerous to recount," said a foreign ministry statement.
A Nigerian senator called Col Gaddafi, until recently head of the African Union, a "mad man".
The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says the dispute appears to have become a tit-for-tat game.
Col Gaddafi initially suggested the split to prevent any more bloodshed between rival groups in central Nigeria.
Hundreds have died this year in ethnic and religious violence around Jos.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, with some 130 million people, and has more than 250 different ethnic groups, broadly divided into a largely Muslim north and mainly Christian south.
"It became clear... that Nigeria does not consist of two parts," Col Gaddafi said in a statement.
"The Yoruba people in the west and south demand independence, while the Igbo people live in the east and south.
"It became clear that the Ijaw people demand independence and the [Hausa] people in the north call for the establishment of the [Hausa] state."
In his original comments, Col Gaddafi said that Nigeria should be divided - comparing it to the partition of British India into Hindu-dominated India and Muslim Pakistan, which led to at least 200,000 deaths and possibly as many as one million.
But the Libyan leader now suggests Nigeria should follow in the footsteps of Yugoslavia.
He says the most bloody conflict in the former-Yugoslavia - in Bosnia - arose because that was a multi-ethnic state, while the other countries seceded "peacefully".
An attempt by Nigeria's Igbo people to gain independence in 1967 sparked a war which left more than one million people dead.