Zimbabwe may deport Libyan envoy for recognising rebels

Zimbabwe may deport Libyan envoy for recognising rebels Harare: Zimbabwe has threatened to deport Libya's ambassador to Harare after he recognised the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) fighting Muammar Gaddafi's regime, state media reported on Friday.

The "NTC is not accredited to Harare," the state-run Herald newspaper quoted foreign ministry spokesman Joey Bimha as saying.

"If they say they now recognise the NTC, it means they are no longer representing the interests of the Libyan government in Zimbabwe."

An unnamed senior government official told the daily that Zimbabwean authorities were unhappy with Ambassador Taher Elmagrahi for hoisting the anti-Gaddafi rebellion's flag over the Libyan embassy in Harare and shifting his loyalty to the NTC.

"If he remains defiant, he faces deportation. We do not have diplomatic relations with the NTC and the hoisting of its flag here is actually illegal," The Herald quoted the official as saying.

Elmagrahi on Wednesday led his compatriots in burning portraits of Gaddafi and the green flag synonymous with his regime.

The ambassador told journalists he represents "the Libyan people and not Gaddafi," and said he had written to Zimbabwe's foreign ministry announcing his defection.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Gaddafi have close ties based on their anti-Western stance.

Mugabe has condemned the NATO-led attacks on Gaddafi targets in Libya as "callous", saying the Western coalition wants to kill the long-term leader to help itself to Libyan oil.