Botswana urges Gaddafi followers to surrender

2011-09-03 15:02

Gaborone – Botswana called on diehard followers of Muammar Gaddafi to surrender today as it became the latest country to grant recognition to Libya’s transitional rulers.

“The government of Botswana calls upon Gaddafi’s forces to lay down their arms to avoid a further loss of human lives,” said a government statement.

The statement also appealed to followers of the deposed strongman to become “part of the construction and reconciliation process led by the National Transition Council (NTC)”.

Botswana was one of the first African countries to break with the Gaddafi regime, severing diplomatic ties in February in protest at his forces crackdown on anti-government protests.

However, the diamond-rich Southern African nation said it was time for diplomatic ties to be restored with the NTC, the former rebel movement which has been granted widespread international recognition since toppling Gaddafi.

“To this end, the government of Botswana will invite the NTC to open the Libyan embassy in Gaborone,” it said.

The NTC has given Gaddafi’s followers until next weekend to surrender but has moved its troops towards Bani Walid, a desert town southeast of the capital where it suspects the long-time ruler may have taken refuge.

Meanwhile, a Botswana government spokesperson confirmed that the former Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe who was ordered to leave for recognising Libya’s new rulers had arrived in the country.

Zimbabwean state media had earlier said that Ambassador, Taher Elmagrahi, had driven over the border into Botswana on Thursday night after being expelled.

The Libyan envoy raised the ire of the government of President Robert Mugabe when he pulled down portraits of Muammar Gaddafi and burnt the old green flag associated with Gaddafi’s fallen regime.

He replaced the old flag with that of the NTC, saying he was following the wishes of the Libyan people, adding that he represented Libyans and not Gaddafi.

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