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Mugabe joins the fray on Libya

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday called for Libya's transitional government and its leader to negotiate with deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as a precondition for recognising it.

Mugabe threatened that until the talks with Gaddafi happen, his country and African leaders would not recognise the Transitional National Council (TNC), headed by Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Credit: Reuters

Mugabe's threat on behalf of fellow African leaders appeared to be out of step with a move last week by the Africa Union, to which Zimbabwe as well as Libya belong.

The African Union (AU) recognised Libya's Transitional National Council as the representative of the Libyan people as they form an all-inclusive transitional government that will occupy the Libyan seat at the African Union.

South Africa, the continent's power house, also individually recognised the TNC.

Last week, the United Nations recognised the TNC as representing Libya, and Abdul Jalil met with United States President Barack Obama and other world leaders.

During months of ongoing protests and harsh reprisals against demonstrators in Libya, South Africa and other African countries had tried in vain to negotiate a peace between Gaddafi and the rebels.

Gaddafi's whereabouts have been unknown since his ousting from power earlier this month.

Mugabe, 87, made his remarks upon his arrival at Harare International Airport from his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech in New York, he charged that Nato had “invaded” Libya to benefit from the country's oil.

“As far as we are concerned, the African position is that the (TNC) can only have a seat in the AU if the summit of the AU recognises that in fact they are in control,” Mugabe told reporters.

“We will not go as far as European and Nato countries to recognise them as the absolute authority as we still want negotiations between the (TNC) and the Gaddafi loyalists,” Mugabe said.

Last month, Harare expelled Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe Taher Elmagrahi and his entire staff after he openly supported the transitional council. - Sapa-dpa

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