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Zimbabwe Governing Parties Urge Harare to Recognize Libyan Government

Harare expelled the Libyan ambassador early this month after he said he was switching sides to the rebel National Transitional Council which deposed former leader Moammar Gadhafi

Officials of the three parties sharing power in Zimbabwe's national unity government said Wednesday that Harare should recognize the revolutionary government in Libya following a similar move by the African Union on Tuesday.

Harare expelled the Libyan ambassador early this month after he said he was switching sides to the rebel movement which deposed former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha said then that Harare would only restore diplomatic ties with Tripoli when the AU had recognized the rebels.

The AU said Tuesday that it had finally decided to work with the Libyan people to rebuild their country into a “united, democratic, peaceful and prosperous” nation.

South Africa took the same step after having held back recognition for weeks.

Zimbabwe government spokesman Webster Shamu refused to comment on Harare’s position and neither Bimha nor any other foreign affairs official could be reached.

But politicians from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the two branches of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Zimbabwe has no choice but to follow the AU lead on restoring ties with Tripoli.

ZANU-PF Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that accepting the AU position is the only sensible thing to do.

"Recognizing the government in Tripoli will be the right thing to do as we are bound by the decisions of the AU," Gumbo said.

Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube agreed, saying Harare should hasten to re-establish relations.

Political analyst Charles Mutasa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the AU move is welcome – but long overdue. "We had a very strong relationship with Ghadhafi and we don't know what is in the bag of the new government in Tripoli."