Nicaragua Open to Qaddafi Asylum Request, Says Official

With the whereabouts of Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi still unknown, an adviser to Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega said Tuesday that his government would consider granting him asylum.

Asked whether Nicaragua would offer Qaddafi asylum, economic adviser Bayardo Arce said he didn't know how Qaddafi could even get to this Central American nation, whose government has been a strong ally of the Libyan leader.

"I do not know how Qaddafi could get here from Libya, because we do not have an embassy in Libya," Arce told Channel 63 television.

But Arce said "if someone asks us for asylum, we would have to consider it positively, because our people got asylum when the Somoza dictatorship was killing us," Arce said, referring to the 1979 uprising that overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Ortega made a public speech Tuesday but did not mention Qaddafi.

Rebels overran Qaddafi's command compound in Tripoli on Tuesday, but his whereabouts are unknown.

The leftist governments of Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia are staunch allies of Qaddafi and have criticized the military intervention by U.S. and European air forces.

In late February, after Qaddafi's government began cracking down on the uprising, Ortega said he had telephoned the Libyan leader to express his solidarity.

Ortega said at the time that Qaddafi "is again waging a great battle" to defend the unity of his nation.

This article is based on the Associate Press.

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