Britain recognises rebels, expels Gaddafi envoys
Britain recognised Libya's rebel council as the country's sole legitimate government yesterday after dramatically expelling all remaining staff loyal to Moamer Gaddafi from the London embassy.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had invited the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) to take over the embassy and appoint an official envoy in a major boost for the movement fighting Gaddafi's regime.
A group of rebel supporters unfurled the red, black and green flag of the Libyan opposition outside the embassy after Hague's announcement, although the Gaddafi regime's green flag was still flying from the building itself.
"The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognises and will deal with the National Transitional Council as the sole governmental authority in Libya," Hague told a news conference in London.
"We are inviting the National Transitional Council to appoint a new Libyan diplomatic envoy to take over the Libyan embassy in London."
He added: "In line with that decision we summoned the Libyan charge d'affaires to the Foreign Office today and informed him that he and the other regime diplomats from the Gaddafi regime must leave the UK."
"We no longer recognise them as the representatives of the Libyan government."
Britain would also unlock £91 million of Libyan oil assets frozen under a UN Security Council resolution so that the rebels could benefit from them, Hague said.
"This will help to ensure that the crucial provision of fuel is maintained. We will work hard with our international partners in the coming weeks to unfreeze further Libyan assets."
Britain is one of the lead nations in a Nato-led alliance that has been carrying out an aerial campaign against Gaddafi's regime since March, when the UN approved action to protect civilians.