Wednesday, 27 July 2011

UK recognises Libyan rebels, expels Gaddafi's London staff

The Guardian is just one of several newspapers today that carries the lead UK story regarding the ongoing conflict in Libya. This article reports on a significant shift in recognition by HM Government, with no small significance for Gaddafi's legitimacy and Libyan sovereignty:
Britain is expelling the Libyan chargé d'affaires and all eight remaining Libyan embassy staff in London after David Cameron and William Hague ruled that Libya's national transitional council (NTC) was now the "sole governmental authority" in the country.

The chargĂ© was summoned to a meeting at the Foreign Office, where he was given three days to leave Britain. Other diplomats at the Libyan People's Bureau, in Knightsbridge – which has been under heavy police guard since the launch of the military campaign in March – have been told to leave over the course of the summer.

Hague announced the expulsions at a Foreign Office press conference on Wednesday as he invited the NTC to nominate an ambassador and other diplomats to take over the Libyan mission. The foreign secretary said: "The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognises and will deal with the national transitional council as the sole governmental authority in Libya.

"This decision reflects the national transitional council's increasing legitimacy, competence and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country.

"Through its actions, the national transitional council has shown its commitment to a more open and democratic Libya, something that it is working to achieve in an inclusive political process. This is in stark contrast to Gaddafi, whose brutality against the Libyan people has stripped him of all legitimacy."

Hague said Britain – which has temporarily closed its embassy in Tripoli – now runs its largest diplomatic mission in north Africa after Cairo in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi. This will be designated as an embassy if the NTC requests an upgrade.

The decision to recognise the NTC as sole governmental authority led to the unfreezing of £91m in UK assets belonging to the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, a Libyan oil firm under the NTC's control. Foreign Office sources said the assets were unfrozen after the NTC gave assurances that the funds would be used to purchase fuel and not arms, which would be illegal under UN security council resolutions.
There's a video of the announcement as well...

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