Khalifa Haftar expels 12 Sudan diplomats from Libya

#LibyaCrisis

Order to close consulate was given on grounds of 'damage to Libyan national security', pro-Haftar news agency said

Military strongman Khalifa Haftar of Libya (AFP/file photo)
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Friday 28 July 2017 0:54 UTC
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Authorities in eastern Libya backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar on Thursday ordered the closure of a Sudanese consulate and the expulsion of 12 diplomats, a pro-Haftar news agency announced.

It said the order to shut down the mission in Kufra, an oasis in southern Libya, was given on the grounds of "damage to Libyan national security".

The consul and 11 consular staff were given 72 hours to leave the country, which has been mired in anarchy since the 2011 revolution that toppled its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Sudan's embassy in Tripoli is closed but a consulate with limited personnel served Sudanese living in the capital, according to its Facebook page.

Khartoum summoned the Libyan Charge D'Affaires Ali Muftah Mahroug later on Thursday to protest the mission's closure in Libya, the Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry told the Libyan diplomat that it expected the Libyan authorities to reconsider the decision in order to allow the consulate to continue with its normal duties, the statement said.

Haftar does not recognise the authority of the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli and instead backs a rival parliament based in the country's far east.

In May, the Libyan foreign minister called on Haftar to accept the government in Tripoli.

"Haftar must first accept to work under a civilian authority and officially approve the political deal" that gave rise to the power-sharing authority, Mohamed al-Taher Siala told AFP.

Officials in Khartoum have accused Haftar of enlisting rebels from Sudan's Darfur region to fight alongside his forces. Haftar has accused Sudan of supporting "terrorists" in Libya.

Khartoum recognises the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord of UN-backed prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, a rival of Haftar and Libya's eastern authorities supported by his forces.

According to officials in Khartoum, dozens of young Sudanese - both men and women - have been killed in Libya fighting among the ranks of the Islamic State group.