Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi called for more European aid to Africa to curb the numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe by sea.
Immigration is a hot political issue for governments in Europe, especially now at a time of global economic crisis.
Gaddafi, elected as the new chairman of the African Union, said he would call on Europe and the international community to help Africa offer better opportunities to its young people.
“If Europe does not want migration, then it has to help us encourage young people to stay in Africa. In my position as AU chairman, I call on Europe and the European Union for that,” he said in a speech late on Tuesday.
“I’m against our young people migrating to Europe. I do not want Africa be drained of its workforce and of its youth,” Gaddafi told supporters congratulating him on his AU election.
“Young people should stay in Africa to build Africa and work in Africa. We have to set up serious projects in Africa and prevent youths from going to Europe,” he added in the remarks carried by state news agency Jana on Wednesday.
Gaddafi pledged to defend the rights of African immigrants in Europe, where, he said, African workers are abused and marginalised.
The Libyan leader said he accepted the post of AU chairman mainly because Barack Obama, who father was Kenyan, had been elected U.S. president.
“We accepted presiding over the African Union at a time when a black man presides over United States of America … This is one of the reasons that made me accept the AU presidency,” he said.
Gaddafi said he hoped the United States would change under Obama.
“It is possible there would be cooperation between Africa and America and we can contribute in improving the world’s affairs and resolve its thorny issues,” he added.