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Anti-Gadhafi Libyans Demonstrate in Harare

Libyan's living in Zimbabwe demonstrate against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi at the Libyan Embassy in Harare, August 24, 2011
Libyan's living in Zimbabwe demonstrate against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi at the Libyan Embassy in Harare, August 24, 2011
Peta Thornycroft

For the first time, Libyans in Zimbabwe's capital of Harare have demonstrated against Moammar Gadhafi, saying he and his family stole Libya’s oil revenues. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party criticize Western support for the rebels on a daily basis, as well as lashing out at the African Union for failing to go to Colonel Gadhafi’s aid.

Many Zimbabweans believe Libyan Colonel Moammar Gadhafi and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe are close allies, so passers by were astonished when a group of Libyans demonstrated Wednesday outside their embassy in central Harare in support of the rebels who control of most of Libya.

The green flag previously flown above the embassy has been pulled down and in its place is the flag used by the rebel National Transitional Council, previously used in Libya between 1951 and 1969.

One of the Libyan protesters who worked in the embassy for four years said he supported the rebels in Libya and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe. He said that although Zimbabwe was a “poor” country, it was a “free” country. He said Colonel Gadhafi had stolen Libya’s oil revenues for his family.

"We have the oil, we have everything, but all the people without houses, with nothing, without freedom, without media in Libya, you do not see any media in Libya, and also you will find in Libya many tanks with Gadhafi," he said. "The money in Canada, the money in Switzerland, they take all the money from Libya. Forty years now they collected the money.”

Gadhafi last visited Zimbabwe 10 years ago at the height of Mugabe’s often violent land-reform program. The Libyan leader said he supported the eviction of white farmers, and said Zimbabwe’s whites should return to their countries of origin.

Mugabe and Gadhafi fell out in 2004 when Zimbabwe failed to pay for two-thirds of $360-million in fuel supplied by Libya’s state oil company.

Then Mugabe criticized the Libyan leader for reconciling with the West, particularly when former British prime minister Tony Blair went to meet Gadhafi in Libya.

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.

On a daily basis the ZANU-PF-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and state newspapers have strongly criticized Western support for the rebels.

The demonstration outside the Libyan embassy was ignored by police who usually arrest street protesters, unless those taking part are promoting ZANU-PF.

“We are celebrating today because no more Gadhafi," said a Libyan. "And we have our new flag. This is our flag, this the original flag, the green one is for Gadhafi and we do not need it any more. Freedom it is a new life. We are Libyan freedom fighters not rebels. All the money he is using for him and his children. He is selling the oil and he is keeping it for his sons.”

The pro-ZANU-PF Herald newspaper said Wednesday it expected Gadhafi to be killed in Tripoli or if captured sent to the International Criminal Court, which the writer described as a "Kangaroo Court in the Hague.”

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