Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe Taher al-Megrahi left the country by road on Thursday evening, destined for Botswana to beat the 72-hour deadline given to him by the government.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters in Ivory Coast on Thursday that the Libyan embassy was being closed in Zimbabwe, but he opposed the move.
“My position is (that) it is not up to Zimbabwe to decide what the sovereign right is of the Libyans. It is up to the Libyans to choose their representatives,” he said.
Megrahi and his embassy staff left for Botswana after they failed to secure visas at the South African embassy in Harare.
A senior official at the South African embassy in Harare told NewsDay the Libyans were certainly not going to settle in their country.
“We did not give him a visa,” the official said. “We do not know which country he is going to.”
If he had failed to observe the deadline he risked being forcibly ejected from the country, following his show of allegiance to Libyan rebels that have toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi from power.
His official residence in Harare’s plush Gunhill suburb was deserted yesterday. Only two Libyans were seen inside the yard. An armed police officer and a private guard were manning the residence.
Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha on Friday said two officials from the Libyan embassy would remain in the country for the next two weeks to “wind up their business”.
The Libyan diplomats reportedly left in a five-car convoy headed for neighbouring Botswana, a trip of about 480 kilometres.
“The (Libyan) ambassador wrote to me advising me he was leaving yesterday (Thursday) by road,” Bimha told NewsDay on Friday.
Elmagrahi joined jubilant Libyan nationals resident in Zimbabwe last week in replacing the Gaddafi regime flag with that of the National Transitional Council, which is backed by Nato.
The move raised the ire of the Zanu PF component in government, close allies of the deposed Libyan leader, prompting Elmagrahi’s expulsion.