Libya warns Italy government over right-winger

Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi's son has said ties between Libya and Italy will suffer "catastrophic repercussions" if anti-Islamic politician becomes a minister.

Libya warns Italy government over right-winger

A Libyan charity chaired by leader Muammar Gaddafi's son has said ties between Libya and Italy will suffer "catastrophic repercussions" if a lawmaker known for his anti-Islamic rhetoric becomes an Italian minister.

The remarks caused a stir in Italy where right-wing and leftist lawmakers criticised Libya for interfering in Italian domestic affairs and rallied to support Roberto Calderoli, a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League party.

Calderoli is known for his rhetoric against immigrants and Islam. The strong showing of Northern League in April's election has given rise to speculation he will become reforms minister in Silvio Berlusconi's cabinet.

"The decision of the new Italian prime minister is an internal matter that concerns Italy," the Gaddafi International Foundation said in a statement.

"But if that former minister (Calderoli) was re-appointed minister again, this would have catastrophic repercussions for relations between Italy and Libya."

The foundation is chaired by Libyan leader Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, widely believed to play a major role in Libya's diplomacy with Western states.

Italy is OPEC member Libya's main European trade partner and Italian oil company ENI holds stakes in pipeline, natural gas and oil projects in Libya. The two nations have also been co-operating to stem the flow of illegal migrants to Italy.

The League is a junior ally within Berlusconi's centre-right coalition that swept to power in the parliamentary election.

Calderoli angered Muslims in 2006 by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad when he was reforms minister in Berlusconi's government of the time.

Soon afterwards, a crowd burned the Italian consulate building in the eastern Libyan town of Benghazi in protest and dozens of Libyans were killed in clashes with security forces. Calderoli stepped down after he was blamed for the riots.

The Libyan foundation at the time warned of "serious repercussions" over bilateral ties and blamed Calderoli for the deaths. Tripoli later said Rome had heeded the warning and sacked Calderoli as a minister.

The latest comments from Libya angered Italian politicians across the political spectrum. Calderoli said he was moved by several phone calls of support he received from lawmakers.

"No type of interference by foreign countries in Italian politics can be accepted, especially on governments and their formation," said Enrico Casbarra, a lawmaker from the centre-left Democratic Party defeated in the election.

One lawmaker from Berlusconi's party called on the outgoing government to summon Libya's ambassador to Rome.

Reuters
Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2008, 11:14
Add Comment