(Reuters) – A powerful Libyan militia leader warned Egypt on Saturday he would use force to close its embassy and shut the border if the military rulers failed to cut off a Gaddafi-era state television station that has broadcast footage of his old speeches.
Abdullah Naker, the commander of Tripoli’s Revolutionist Council, said Egypt’s Nilesat satellite broadcaster had allowed Muammar Gaddafi’s official Al Jamahiriya station to broadcast last week.
The station had no signal on Saturday, but residents in Tripoli said they had watched the channel, which had the same name and logo as Al Jamahiriya, broadcasting on Friday.
Naker said the channel was funded by businessmen loyal to the leader who was killed in October and started broadcasting last week.“The broadcast of the channel (Al Jamahiriya) should be stopped immediately,” Naker told a news conference at his base in the headquarters of a state-owned construction company on the outskirts of Tripoli.
“We will take all measures, including the closing of the border, expelling Egyptians and closing down the Egyptian embassy and consulate.”
A Nilesat official said the state-run station’s broadcasts had been cut off for several months.
A government official said the interim Foreign Mininstry would contact the Egyptian government to “solve the issue this television station through diplomatic channels”.
Naker’s warning is the latest indicator that Libya is still largely controlled by hundreds of militias that helped topple Gaddafi despite the interim government efforts to disband them by including the former rebels in the military, police and the civil service.
“We will not take permission from anyone,” Naker said. “We will take all necessary actions to protect our revolution.”
It was not the first time Naker had made such strong statements.
He warned in an interview with Reuters last month that his men could overthrow the government even before it was appointed if it failed to meet their demands for representation.
Naker’s threats are hard to assess, but he says he controls thousands of fighters.
(Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush and Ali Shuaib; Additional reporting by Tamim Elyan in Cairo; Editing by Alison Williams)