By Imed Lamloum, Sapa-AFP | October 11 2010
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi warned on Sunday ahead of a vote on possible independence for south Sudan that a partition of the country would be a “contagious disease” that could spread to other African states.
Gaddafi was speaking at a one-day Arab-African summit that wrapped up its work by establishing a strategic partnership between Arab and African states in the areas of energy, environment, water resources, agriculture and food security.
Gaddafi told the opening of the summit in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte that “what is happening in Sudan could become a contagious disease that affects the whole of Africa”.
“We must recognise that this event is dangerous,” he said of the planned January 9 referendum on southern Sudan independence which could see Africa's largest country split in two.
A simultaneous referendum is to be held in the disputed oil-rich Abyei region, straddling north and south Sudan, on which part it wants to belong to.
“The partition of Sudan is likely to change the map of the country. But other (African countries) will change too,” the Libyan leader told the gathering, which was attended by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Gaddafi had called in March for Nigeria to be partitioned between the Christian and Muslim communities to solve its problem of sectarian violence.
He proposed that it should follow the model of Pakistan, which was born in 1947 after the Muslim minority of predominantly Hindu India founded their own homeland.
Most of Africa's borders are arbitrary, resulting from colonies carved out by European empire-builders that often divided tribal or linguistic groups between one or more territories. Any effort to change that could lead to a radical redrawing of the continent's maps.