Libya embassy hoists two flags

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MASERU — Lesotho will not take a position on the Libyan political impasse until calm prevails in the North African state, Foreign Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa said on Tuesday.

“You must have noted that Lesotho has not pronounced whether or not it supports the situation in Libya. This is because we want to be clear as to what is really happening,” Tsekoa said.

“The country is in a state of revolution, of war. These are early days to declare our stance as a country.”

Tsekoa was responding to questions by the Lesotho Times to explain why the Libyan embassy in Maseru had been allowed to hoist the two flags representing the warring sides in Libya.

The embassy last week hoisted the flag representing the old order under Muammar Gadaffi as well as the new one representing the National Transitional Council (NTC), the rebel group that ousted Gadaffi last month.

“We have not associated ourselves with them (rebel authority) as we’re taking time to assess the situation on the ground, so that when we finally take a position, it’s an informed one,” Tsekoa said.

He added that Lesotho’s embassy in Libya would remain closed until “such a time that calm prevails”.

“Our embassy staff has come back home from Libya until such a time that order has been restored in that country.”

Tsekoa on Friday summoned the Libyan officials to his office to explain why the embassy had hoisted the rebel flag.

He said the issue of the two flags “is out of our hands”.

“The issue of two flags is totally new to us. But there is not much we can do except to seek an explanation from the Libyan embassy in Maseru,” Tsekoa said.

Tsekoa also revealed that the Libyan officials in Lesotho had told him that they were hoisting the NTC flag because it “is representative of the Libyan people”.

“I have been told that the Libyan embassy in Lesotho represents the Libyan people, who have pronounced clearly that they endorsed the leadership of the NTC,” Tsekoa said.

He said the officials made it clear to him that they took orders directly from the Libyan people.

Attempts to get comment from the Libyan embassy yesterday failed with a secretary who picked the phone telling this paper that they would not be responding to questions from the media.

“The embassy will not be responding to any questions from the media,” she said.

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