The Libyan ambassador in Harare has been told to leave the country within five days by Zimbabwean Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi after defecting to the rebel-Libyan government, diplomatic sources said.
The Foreign ministry said it had declared Ambassador Taher Elmagrahi, in Libya’s Harare embassy ‘persona non grata’ and ordered him and his family to leave Zimbabwe after careful examination with security authorities.
Diplomatic sources said Elmagrahi argued against the decision, saying this would send him and his wife to a country in civil war.
Foreign ministry permanent secreary Joey Bimha said the ambassador no longer had any business in Harare because he has broken ranks with the man who sent him here.
Harare, opposed military intervention in Libya and NATO’s air raid on Gaddafi’s forces, and has steadfastly stood with Gaddafi, who has helped prop up President Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
Zimbabwe has flatly refused to recognize the legitimacy of Libya’s rebel council.
On Wednesday, Libya’s ambassador in Zimbabwe joined his fellow countrymen to burn the effigy of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and hoisted the flag of the rebels that have seized power in Tripoli.
“From today, August 24, we follow the Libyan majority, the Libyan people, through our National Transitional Authority,” Ambassador Taher Elmagrahi told reporters outside the embassy in down town Harare. “We are here representing the Libyan people and not Gaddafi. I am not Gaddafi’s ambassador. I represent the Libyan people.”
Embassy staff and Libyan nationals sang freedom songs while others honked car horns while burning Gaddafi’s green flag at the offices just next to the Financial Gazette’s office.
Locals also joined in chanting down the “dictator” Gaddafi. The hoisting of the red, black and green independence flag was met with wild applause and cheers.
The celebration came a day after rebels stormed Gaddafi’s compound and looted his palace in Tripoli. The transitional authority has received widespread backing.