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Zimbabwe Expels Libyan Ambassador


A child holds a Kingdom of Libya flag as a group of Libyans living in Zimbabwe demonstrate outside the Libyan embassy in the capital of Harare, August 24, 2011 (file photo)

A child holds a Kingdom of Libya flag as a group of Libyans living in Zimbabwe demonstrate outside the Libyan embassy in the capital of Harare, August 24, 2011 (file photo)

Zimbabwe has given Libya's ambassador to Harare 72 hours to leave the country.

Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said Tuesday the decision was made after the Libyan embassy declared its allegiance to Libya's Transitional National Council [TNC].

Last week during a protest, Ambassador Taher Elmagrahi and embassy staff members burned the flag used by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. They then raised the flag being used by the anti-Gadhafi TNC.

Mumbengegwi told reporters Zimbabwe does not recognize the TNC as Libya's legitimate government.

African countries have split on whether to recognize the Libyan rebels. Some, like Nigeria, have explicitly endorsed the TNC, while many others have either been silent or stopped short of recognition.

On Monday, the head of the African Union Commission said the AU would recognize the insurgents once they form an "inclusive government."

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Libya's Colonel Gadhafi were close allies for many years, though they had a falling out in 2004 when Zimbabwe failed to pay for two-thirds of $360 million in fuel supplied by Libya’s state oil company.

Still, news outlets controlled by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, including Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, have strongly criticized Western support for the rebels.

Mugabe recently said that while he did not support Gadhafi’s governance or his attacks on demonstrators in February, he believed the West is only interested in Libya for its oil.

Various news reports have mentioned Zimbabwe as a possible refuge for Gadhafi. But the MDC party, ZANU-PF's partner in Zimbabwe's coalition government, has said it would block any attempt to extend asylum to the Libyan leader.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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