TRIPOLI, Libya – Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi suggested Monday that Nigeria be split along ethnic lines, like Yugoslavia, into several mini-states as a way of resolving violence in Africa's most populous nation.
Gadhafi drew Nigeria's anger last week by saying the oil-rich nation should be divided into Muslim and Christian nations along the model of the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent, which led to the independence of India and Pakistan.
In those comments, he told a group of African student leaders in Tripoli that the violence in Nigeria was symptomatic of a "deep-rooted conflict of a religious nature" and required a radical solution.
On Monday, Gadhafi said that wasn't radical enough.
"Actually, the problem of Nigeria won't be solved by dividing it into two Muslim and Christian states. There are other people who, regardless of their religion, also demand independence," Libya's official JANA news agency quoted Gadhafi as saying.
"Therefore, what fits Nigeria in this case is Yugoslavia," he said.
Nigeria criticized the earlier remarks as unacceptable and withdrew its ambassador from Tripoli.
Nigeria has experienced two outbursts of violence between Muslims and Christians this year, where men, women and children were slaughtered. The violence mostly involves revenge attacks, but growing religious hatred, political and ethnic rivalries and poverty have fueled the unrest.
Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Sunni Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. The recent bloodshed has been happening in central Nigeria, where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of the nation's fertile center.
The mercurial Libyan leader, who until recently was chairman of the African Union and adopted the title "King of African Kings," has always claimed to be a champion of African unity.
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