VZCZCXRO5269 OO RUEHRN DE RUEHMR #0621/01 3481610 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 141610Z DEC 06 FM AMEMBASSY MASERU TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2500 INFO RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE 0005 RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY RUEHMR/AMEMBASSY MASERU 2839
1. (S) Summary: The GOL revoked the Libyan Ambassador's
credentials o/a December 13 and ordered the envoy to depart
Lesotho within 72 hours, apparently for "performing in a manner
incompatible" with his duties. Embassy sources indicate that
the GOL had become fed up with the Libyan's abusive behavior and
disdain for GOL procedures and protocol. His expulsion,
however, may be linked to allegations, previously raised with us
by the Foreign Minister, that Libya has attempted to manipulate
the GOL's political system, including the financing of political
opposition leader Tom Thabane, a former member of the GOL
cabinet. FM Moleleki has previously intimated that the GOL
might pursue criminal charges against Thabane; the action taken
against the Libyan envoy could be a precursor to potential legal
action directed at the opposition leader. End Summary.
2. (SBU) According to diplomatic and Foreign Ministry sources,
the Government of Lesotho notified the Ambassador of Libya to
Lesotho, Mohamed Algamudi, o/a December 13 that his credentials
had been revoked and he had 72 hours to depart the country.
3. (C) Embassy sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(PROTECT) told us early on December 13 that the GOL had become
"fed up" with Algamudi's abuse of his local employees and his
complete disregard for GOL procedures, protocol, and sundry
official requests. Those same sources indicated that the MFA
would soon declare Algamudi persona non grata and expel him from
Lesotho. Diplomatic sources have also related that Algamudi may
have been involved in abusive extra-marital affairs.
4. (U) Resident diplomatic chiefs of mission, UN agency
representatives, and honorary consuls met on the evening of
December 13 at a local Maseru restaurant for a monthly social
gathering (note: the U.S. mission was represented by an Embassy
officer). A seat reserved for Ambassador Algamudi, who is Dean
of the Diplomatic Corps, remained vacant throughout the dinner.
Halfway through the event, the South African High Commissioner,
William Leslie (the likely new Dean), received a phone call from
Algamudi. Leslie subsequently informed the gathering that
Algamudi had just received notification from the MFA regarding
his immediate expulsion "for performing in a manner incompatible
with his duties."
5. (S) Although Algamudi appears to be rather mild-mannered,
rumors have long indicated that he treats his local Basotho
staff harshly and displays utter disdain for the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, including Foreign Minister Moleleki. This will
likely be the public version of his expulsion, which will no
doubt make the press very soon. We suspect, however, that the
GOL has PNG'd Algamudi on the basis of allegations of more
sinister behavior. As recently as October, FM Moleleki
reiterated to Ambassador Perry the longstanding GOL belief that
Libya and its envoy have repeatedly attempted to manipulate the
GOL political system (ref A).
6. (S) Moleleki has specifically accused Libya of financing
former cabinet member Tom Thabane, who defected from the GOL in
October and formed a new opposition party (ref A). Algamudi has
been unapologetic about his close relationship with Thabane. FM
Moleleki, in turn, claims that Algamudi and Thabane were
involved in a January 2007 assassination attempt on the Foreign
Minister (ref B). The Libyan envoy has frequently complained to
Maseru-based diplomats that the GOL has refused for three years
running to approve his application to open an Islamic school and
cultural center in Lesotho. FM Moleleki has told Ambassador
Perry that such permission would not be forthcoming, given his
suspicions about nefarious Libyan activities and his concerns
about terrorist activity carried out by Islamic groups worldwide
7. (U) Bio Note: Ambassador Mohamed Algamudi (his official title
is "Secretary of the People's Bureau of the Great Socialist
People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya") has served in Lesotho since
March 2003. He was scheduled to complete his tour within the
next month or two, just shy of his fourth anniversary as Libyan
Envoy. He has previously told U.S. diplomats that he intended
to retire and return to Tripoli.
Comment: First the Libyan, then the Opposition?
8. (S) The sudden expulsion of the Libyan Ambassador is clearly
a serious diplomatic step, resulting from senior-level GOL
deliberation which no doubt involved recognition that Libya
might consider reciprocal action against Lesotho's diplomats in
MASERU 00000621 002.2 OF 002
Tripoli. Of note, Foreign Minister Moleleki has been on travel
for weeks in Asia and North America, with only a brief stop in
Lesotho between trips. He is currently in Washington, where he
is scheduled to meet with officials at the Millennium Challenge
Corporation on December 14. While any specific facts regarding
Libyan interference and financing of the opposition remain
unknown to us, FM Moleleki has previously intimated to U.S.
diplomats, while raising the Libyan allegations, that the GOL
might pursue criminal charges against former minister Thabane.
We don't rule out the possibility that the action taken against
the Libyan envoy is a precursor to potential legal action
against Thabane. End Comment.