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Zimbabwean General Dismisses Libyan-Style Revolt Scenario for Harare

General Philip Valerio Sibanda told the state-run Chronicle newspaper that despite the turmoil in Libya and other North African and Arab states there is no risk that Zimbabwe will see a similar popular uprising

Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda has criticized African leaders for failing to take action against the Libyan rebels who appear to have ousted Moammar Ghaddafi from power in Tripoli.

Sibanda told the state-run Chronicle newspaper Monday that despite the turmoil in Libya and other North African and Arab states, no such popular uprising is likely in Zimbabwe.

He said divisions among African leaders made it easy for the NATO-backed Libyan rebels to drive Gadhafi from power, though his loyalists are still putting up resistance in some areas.

As of last week more than 20 African countries had recognized the rebel National Transitional Council taking power in Libya. But Zimbabwe has held out and its Foreign Ministry has threatened to expel the Libyan ambassador who last week declared loyalty to the rebels.

Commenting on Sibanda's remarks dismissing parallels between Libya and Zimbabwe, National Healing Minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu, a liberation war veteran, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the military is unnerved by events in Libya.

Analyst Charles Mangongera told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that senior army officers should stop making such political statements and focus on their job of defense.

Meanwhile, Libyan diplomats in Harare were warning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and President Robert Mugabe that Zimbabwe could face a popular uprising similar to Libya’s if calls for democracy are not heeded.

Libyan Embassy First Counselor Mohammed Elbarat told the Daily News that Harare should support democratic trends in Africa as they are unstoppable. He said events in Llibya reflect a new trend that could be repeated in Zimbabwe.

Elsewhere, Libyan Ambassador Taher Elmagrahi failed to appear Monday after being summoned to the Foreign Ministry, official sources said. The ministry said he no longer enjoys diplomatic protection having announced his defection to the National Transitional Council in Libya, which Zimbabwe has refused to recognize.

Analyst Effie Dlela Ncube said the reason Harare refuses to recognize Elmagrahi now that he represents the rebels in Libya is that this would appear to endorse the uprising.