Libyan ’embassy’ still guarded by ZRP

Libyan ’embassy’ still guarded by ZRP – NewZimbabwe 31/03/2016

ZRP continues to deploy officers to guard the Libyan embassy in Harare, almost five years after the Arab country’s ambassador, Taher Elmagrahi, was expelled for turning against slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

However, government continues to deny any immediate plans to mend ties with Tripoli which has failed to return to stability since Gadaffi’s shock ouster in 2011.

Armed officers have continued to guard the Libyan embassy in central Harare although no flag or anything linking the building with the country is visible.

The locked structure now looks desolate with broken window panes showing dusty furniture inside, in sharp contrast with a brisk business life from surrounding shops.

Foreign Affairs permanent secretary, Joey Bimha, told Tuesday the Zimbabwean government was still obliged to provide police
protection to the deserted embassy even though there have not been any subsequent attempts by either government to try and restore their broken relationship.

“We don’t have diplomatic ties with the Libyan government; we don’t know which government to relate to. There is no government that we can relate to at this time,” Bimha said.

Bimha said Harare shall nonetheless continue providing security to the embassy.

“It is still diplomatic property belonging to Libya and that’s why we secure it,” he said.

Gaddafi, who had ruled his country with an iron fist for close to 40 years, was assassinated later in 2011 after putting up strong resistance against a rebellion which was aided by NATO.

His ouster torched celebrations from his own country and Libyan exiles abroad, something that also saw some ambassadors declare allegiance to the rebel led National Transitional Authority which was recognized also by some nations including 20 African countries.

In Harare, the then Libyan ambassador led over a dozens of Libyans in celebrating Gaddafi’s ouster with scenes of his ecstatic compatriots seen burning portraits of Gaddafi and lowering the green flag, which was synonymous with the slain leader’s regime.

President Robert Mugabe, who was a close Gaddafi ally, chose not to go with the grain by taking an unprecedented action to expel Libya’s ambassador from Zimbabwe.

Ambassador Elmagrahi was given only 72 hours to leave the country, making it virtually impossible for the diplomat to arrange for the repatriation of some of his government’s property.

He stood as the first and probably the only Libyan diplomat anywhere to pay the price.

Currently, Libya is not represented at whatever level in Zimbabwe.