Botswana security agencies were on Friday mobilized in a bid to try and contain a potentially volatile security situation as the crisis over the collapse of central authority in Libya spilled over into Botswana. Libyan diplomats in Botswana are divided in line with the political groups controlling different parts of the civil war-torn North African country. The tension at the embassy boiled over on Friday morning resulting in a messy attempt to topple the Libyan Ambassador in Botswana Abdelmatlob Buhawia. By Friday night the Libyan ambassador was reported to be trapped inside the Libyan Embassy while a high level security panel consisting Director of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Isaac kgosi, Director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Mathews Maduwane Head of Crime Intelligence Bureau (CRIB) David Mosetse and some senior foreign affair officials were locked in a late night meeting with some Libyan envoys to try and diffuse the situation.
A contingent of the Special Support Group (SSG) was mobilized and stationed outside the Foreign Affairs offices, a block away from the Libyan Embassy apparently to be able to react swiftly in case of a security emergency. Unconfirmed reports state that Botswana’s security personnel could not storm the Libyan embassy to rescue the ambassador who was allegedly held hostage by rival envoys because the Libyan embassy enjoys diplomatic immunity. A tense Isaac Kgosi who was in the company of the CID and CRIB leaders chased the media way from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices where officials were struggling to come up with a solution. The Ministry exterior lights were off and the air was so tense that Kgosi barred reporters from switching on their cellular phone lights to find their way through the darkness. Sources close to the crisis told Sunday Standard that a section of Libyan envoys in Gaborone mobilized to topple Buhawia saying ‘he doesn’t represent’ the lawful government of the country. After the fall of authoritarian leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been lacking central authority.
The country has been split for more than a year between an ‘elected’ parliament in the country’s far-east and an Islamist-led government backed by ‘Islamic groups’ that seized the capital. In 2014, an Islamist-led militia alliance overran Tripoli and forced the internationally recognized administration to flee to the east of the country.
Western intelligence officials believe the subsequent power vacuum has allowed the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group to gain a stronghold in the oil-rich nation.
This is not the first time the Libyan factional wars are fought inside Libyan embassies on foreign soil. In July last year some Libyan diplomats working Dhaka, Bangladesh declined to accept Muhammed Sallabi, charg├® d’affaires of the Libyan embassy, upon his return from home leave saying ‘he doesn’t represent’ the lawful government of the country.