Zimbabwe orders rebel-backing Libyan envoy to leave

ZIMBABWE has ordered Libya’s ambassador to leave  Harare after he  aligned himself with NATO-backed rebels who deposed the  government of  Muammar Gaddafi on Sunday.

Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs ministry officials  told Ambassador Taher  Elmagrahi on Thursday he would be deported if he does not  comply, a day  after he pledged his support for the National Transitional  Council.

Elmagrahi on Wednesday joined Libyan demonstrators  in Harare who  lowered and burned the green flag synonymous with Gaddafi’s  regime and  raised the red, black and green flag from independence in 1951.

“From today, August 24, we  follow the Libyan majority, the Libyan  people, through our national transitional  authority,” Ambassador  Elmagrahi told journalists outside the embassy in  downtown Harare.

“We are here representing the  Libyan people and not Gaddafi. I am not Gaddafi’s ambassador. I represent the  Libyan people.”
But if Ambassador Elmagrahi was hoping to preserve his job,  his stance achieved the opposite.

“NTC is not accredited to Harare. If they say they now  recognise the  NTC, it means they are no longer representing the interests of  the  Libyan Government in Zimbabwe,” Foreign Affairs secretary Ambassador  Joey  Bimha said.

The NTC, he added, had no legal status in Zimbabwe and the   ambassador had stripped himself of his diplomatic privileges by his   pronouncements.

“If he remains  defiant, he faces deportation,” said another  government official. “We don’t have  diplomatic relations with NTC and  the hoisting of its flag here is actually  illegal.”

Elmagrahi wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs  announcing his defection on Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe, a staunch ally of Gaddafi, has been   outspoken in his denunciation of the armed rebellion which is backed by  western  countries, mainly France, Britain and the United States.

South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on  Wednesday  called on the International Criminal Court which has issued arrest   warrants for Gaddafi, his son and another senior member of his regime to   investigate civilian killings committed by NATO and the rebels.

His comments struck a chord with the outspoken African  National  Congress’ Youth League which went further to urge African governments   not to recognise the rebels.

“If the  rebels ultimately take over Libya, everyone will know that  these are rebels who  were propelled to power and imposed on the people  of Libya by imperialism through  military violence, which led to loss of  many civilian lives,” the Youth League  said in a statement on Thursday.

“Africa  is now facing a real threat of re-colonisation, which comes  with the brutality  and violence that defined earlier forms of the  battering of Africa as if in  Africa resides people who are unable to  take their own decisions and determine  their destiny.

“The ANC  Youth League humbly requests all African leaders to do the  humble thing of not  recognising imposed regimes in the African  continent. If the African Union  recognises imposed regimes and  government, then imperialist forces will be  encouraged to fund and  assist more rebel groups to illegally remove governments  without the  will of the people.

“If the  ICC is not a hypocritical institution established for the  prosecution of people  from Africa only, it should indeed take up the  issue of civilian losses of  lives caused by NATO bombings in Libya.  Imperialist invasions and  re-colonisation of Africa will never be  allowed and it is high time, the youth  of Africa stand firm to oppose  everything that treat Africans as sub-human.”

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