KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese weapons and ammunition sent through Egypt helped Libya’s former rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi and take control of the North African country, the head of Libya’s interim ruling council said on Friday.
Relations between Khartoum and Tripoli were strained during Gaddafi’s rule because of the slain leader’s support for rebels in Sudan’s western Darfur region and in South Sudan, which seceded in July under a 2005 peace deal.
Sudanese officials now hope for better ties with Libya, which shares a desert border with Sudan. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council, arrived in Khartoum on Friday on his first official visit.
“If not for Sudanese military assistance, it would not have been possible to liberate Kufra,” he said at a conference of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, referring to a town in Libya’s remote southeastern desert.
“The weapons and ammunition which Sudan donated even reached the Western Mountains, by way of our sister Egypt,” he said.
Sudan’s military is fighting armed insurgencies in two states near its border with South Sudan and in Darfur, where rebels took up arms in 2003.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide in Darfur, accusations Khartoum denies.
Gaddafi’s fall helped Sudan’s government by depriving Darfur rebels of a safe haven. The region’s most powerful rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, said in September its leader had returned after taking refuge in Tripoli.
“The Libyan people have given the Sudanese people the greatest gift, and that is the liberation of Libya from Gaddafi and his regime,” Bashir told the conference.
“Sudan has experienced no harm, even from the colonial nations, like the injury caused by Gaddafi and his group.”
Some 300,000 people have died in the conflict in Darfur, according to the United Nations.
Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Tim Pearce