Photo: Founder of the African Union and the Great Jamahiriya, Muammar Qaddafi, and African freedom fighter and President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe has ordered Libya’s ambassador to leave Harare after he aligned himself with the NATO-backed rebels who try to overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
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 Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC).
Elmagrahi on Wednesday joined pro-rebel demonstrators in Harare who burned the Libyan Green Flag.
Ambassador Elmagrahi told journalists outside the embassy in downtown Harare he considers the Libyan rebels as "the Libyan majority".
But if Ambassador Elmagrahi was hoping to preserve his job, his stance achieved the opposite.
“The 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 the Libyan rebel flag here is 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 the Libyan Government to investigate civilian killings committed by NATO and the Libyan 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.