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Botswana warns Libya amid suspected Zimbabwe mercenaries
Botswana, a small Southern African nation has threatened to cut all diplomatic ties with strife-torn Libya while its neighbour, Zimbabwe, is suspected of having mercenaries in the North African country.
Botswana Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said in a statement that continued heavy repression could force it to terminate all manner of relations with Libya.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has today (Wednesday 23), called in the Libyan representative to protest in the strongest possible terms, against the killings and condemn these actions. The government urges the Libyan government to exercise restraint in addressing the situation," reads the statement.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said that for a long time, people in some North African countries and the Middle East have suffered under autocratic regimes and their leaders.
"Botswana continues to monitor the events unfolding in that part of the world and calls for restraint and a peaceful transition resulting in a democratic dispensation which is responsive to the wishes and aspirations of the people. Indeed, Botswana wishes for such democracy to take root where it remains elusive on the rest of the continent and the world at large," it reads in part.
On Tuesday (February 22), a furious Gaddafi appeared on national TV and called for the execution of those behind the revolution that threatens to kick him out of power.
In Zimbabwe, during a parliamentary session Wednesday, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was quizzed on allegations that Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) members were part of the mercenaries hired to suppress the popular revolt to protect Gaddafi.
There have been reports that a group of specially trained Zimbabwean soldiers were shooting down unarmed Libyan civilians.
“Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whether there is any truth in the recent press reports that many mercenaries assisting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are personnel from the ZNA,” asked one legislator.
In response, Mnangagwa said “That there are mercenaries who are African and are in Libya – I have no mandate in my duty as Minister of Defence to investigate activities happening in another African country.
“It is possible for the honourable member to direct his question to the Foreign Affairs ministry, who might also enquire through foreign relations if there are any African countries participating there,” said Mnangagwa.
Early in the day, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary, Joey Bimha told reporters that Zimbabweans should not panic about their fellow countrymen in Libya because they were safe.
“Ambassador George Vengesa has informed us that the situation in Tripoli is quite stable for them to be there. He said he would be monitoring events to see if there would be need to vacate,” said Bimha.