Today In African History (May 6) – US expels Libyans and closes Mission, charging terrorism

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On this day in 1981, the United States ordered that Libya close its diplomatic mission in Washington and remove the mission staff from the country. It cited ”a wide range of Libyan provocations and misconduct, including support for international terrorism.”

A statement by the State Department said that the United States was troubled by ”a general pattern of unacceptable conduct” by Libya, which it said ”is contrary to internationally accepted standards of diplomatic behavior.”

Dean Fischer, the State Department spokesman, declined to give details. But officials said that the Reagan Administration had a list of complaints, including alleged efforts by Libyans to murder opponents of Libya’s revolutionary leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and Libyan activities in Chad, the Sudan and Egypt.

The Washington order, which requires the Libyans to close their mission and withdraw their personnel in five days, fell short of a formal break in diplomatic relations, Mr. Fischer said.

He noted, however, that it reduced United States ties with Libya ”to the lowest level consistent with maintenance of diplomatic relations.”

The order does not affect Libya’s mission to the United Nations. Ground work has begun for a 25-story building, on East 48th Street in Manhattan, to house the Libyan mission.

The American Embassy in Tripoli was attacked and burned in December 1979, after the seizure of the American Embassy in Teheran by Iranian militants and the attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Saudi rebels.

All American diplomats were withdrawn from Libya a few months later. There are still about 2,000 Americans in Libya, working for oil companies there, the State Department spokesman said. Libya ships 640,000 barrels of oil a day to the United States, about 10 percent of United States imports, he added.

Credit: New York Times

OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST ON THIS DAY

1902: Zulu assault at Holkrantz, South Africa.
1916: Belgian troops march into Kigali, German East Africa.
1919: Paris Peace Conference disposes of German colonies; German East Africa is assigned to Britain and France, German South West Africa to South Africa.
1943: British 1st army opens assault on Tunis.
1978: South Africa military goes into Angola.
1990: Former president P. W. Botha quits South Africa’s ruling National Party.
2014: Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, releases a 57 minute video boasting about abducting schoolgirls in Nigeria.
2017: Bus crash in Arusha region, Tanzania kills 35.
2017: 84 abducted schoolgirls released in exchange for Boko Haram suspects in Nigeria.

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