June 15, 2011 / 5:43 AM / 9 years ago

Niger revokes Libyan telecom deal

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger revoked on Tuesday a deal to sell Libya’s LAP Green Network a majority stake in national telecoms operator Sonitel and its mobile arm, saying the Libyan firm had not respected the terms of the transaction.

The deal had called for Green Network to pay 31 billion CFA francs for a 51 percent share in a 10-year licence awarded to the firms. But Green Network has previously said U.N. sanctions targeting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have made it virtually impossible for it to carry out bank transactions.

“We are in a situation where we must reach out for another buyer, and this time, a reliable one,” Salifou Labo Bouche, communications minister in the West African state, said in a statement.

The deal with Green Network was agreed by Niger’s ruling junta in January before it handed power back to a civilian government following elections in March.

West African states including Senegal and Mauritania have distanced themselves from Gaddafi since a NATO-backed uprising in Libya, but Niger’s new president, Mahamadou Issoufou, has stuck to an African Union line of not excluding Gaddafi from a future role.

Bouche said the two companies would be renationalised while Niger sought a new buyer.

Sonitel was previously controlled by a Chinese-Libyan consortium, Dataport, but the Niger government scrapped that deal in 2009, partly because of a lack of investment.

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