ALGERIA: In no hurry to recognize Libyan rebel government

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Algeria will not recognize Libyan rebels’ new government until it makes a strong commitment to fight Al Qaeda in North Africa, an Algerian government source told Reuters.

The high-ranking source, who asked not to be identified, also said Algeria, a U.S. ally in the campaign against Al Qaeda, had evidence that Libyan militants it had handed over to Moammar Kadafi’s government are now at large in Libya and some have joined the rebels.

“There is proof that Libyan Islamists who were delivered by Algeria to Tripoli have managed to flee and join the rebels. We even saw one of them on Al Jazeera television, speaking in the name of the NTC,” said the source, referring to the rebels’ National Transitional Council government.

More than 30 countries recognize the NTC as the legitimate representative of Libya.


The Algerian press has carried reports [link in French] about ongoing fighting in Tripoli.

Algeria has said it believes the chaos inside Libya, and large quantities of weapons circulating there, are being exploited by Al Qaeda’s North African branch, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. “We want to be certain that the new rulers in Libya are involved in the fight against Al Qaeda in our region -- this is key for good relations,” the source told Reuters.

The NTC has rejected assertions that it has been infiltrated by Al Qaeda or other Islamist militants.

Algeria also expects an apology from rebel leaders for alleging earlier during the uprising that Algerian officials were supporting Kadafi, the government source said.

He also questioned the legitimacy of the rebel council.

“It is a transitional institution as its name indicates. Because of this we will only recognize the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people once they themselves pick their leaders,” the source said. “Algeria hopes the new Libyan authorities respect treaties and conventions between the two countries, notably on security.”

“We do not get involved in the internal affairs of other countries. We were careful at the start of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt but later recognized their new governments once the people there made their choices clear,” the source said. “It will be the same for Libya.”


Timeline: Rebellion in Libya

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske