The Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe, Taher Elmagrahi, and his staff have been given 72 hours to leave the country after they dumped Muammar Gaddafi’s fallen regime and shifted their allegiance to the triumphant rebels, now known as the National Transitional Council (NTC).
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told a Press conference in Harare on Tuesday the ambassador deprived himself of diplomatic status after he defected to the NTC which is not recognised by the Zimbabwean government.
“Zimbabwe does not recognise the National Transitional Council. It is in this context that the Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe and staff are required to leave the country within 72 hours,” Mumbengegwi said.
“The decision of the government has been arrived at following recent statements and activities of the ambassador and staff of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (as the country was known under Gaddafi) which the government deemed inconsistent with their status as diplomatic agents of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.” Mumbengegwi said the ambassador had specifically expressed, in writing and verbally, that he and his staff no longer represented Libya, but the NTC.
Last Wednesday, Elmagrahi joined jubilant Libyan nationals resident in Zimbabwe in replacing the Gaddafi regime flag with that of the NTC, which is backed by Nato.
Announcing his defection, the ambassador said: “We follow our Libyan people.
“What they want is what I follow. When they like this, I follow them. When I came here, I was here to represent the Libyan people and I follow them. When they decide to change things, we will follow them,” he said. But Mumbengegwi said Elmagrahi’s actions were against international law.