(JollofNews) – Gambia has ordered the Libyan embassy in Banjul to shut, a diplomatic source said Wednesday, banning it from resuming work until a stable regime has been installed back home.
The foreign ministry sent a letter to embassy staff ordering operations to cease “until there is a stable and permanent government in Tripoli”, a source at the mission told AFP.
“The embassy ceased operation on Tuesday and is now being guarded by security guards,” the source said.
“Gambian security agents including the police took an inventory of the assets within the embassy,” he added.
The source, whose information could not immediately be confirmed with the government, said no Libyan embassy staff had been expelled and all remained in Gambia.
Libya descended into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with heavily armed former rebels carving out fiefdoms across the country.
Jihadist groups have exploited the lawlessness, which has prompted a huge influx of migrants trying to make the dangerous crossing to Europe, with shipwrecks leaving hundreds dead and the EU straining to respond.
World powers urged the oil-rich nation’s warring factions at a meeting in Berlin on Wednesday to wrap up peace talks quickly, calling the current round of negotiations a “last chance” for progress.
Yahya Jammeh, an outspoken military officer and former wrestler, has ruled Gambia with an iron fist since seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1994.
The smallest country in mainland Africa, flanked on both sides by Senegal, it is frequently criticised for human rights abuses and has a chequered recent diplomatic record.
In 2007 Jammeh booted out a United Nations envoy for questioning his cure for AIDS.
Three years later, the European Union, the country’s top aid donor, cancelled 22 million euros ($27 million) in budget support because of concerns over human rights and governance issues.
In October 2013 Gambia withdrew from the Commonwealth and then accused the United States and former colonial power Britain of leading a “shameless campaign of lying” about its rights record.
In the latest controversy, Agnes Guillaud, the EU representative in Gambia, was expelled over the weekend under a government order which drew criticism at home and abroad.
Guillaud, the charge d’affaires of the European Union delegation in Banjul, was given 72 hours to leave, according to a government statement which offered no reason for the decision.
An EU foreign policy spokesman in Brussels said on Saturday the bloc was “astonished” by the ruling and would seek an explanation, adding that the EU had “full confidence” in Guillaud’s work.