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Libyan rebels come under fire from Gadhafi loyalists in Bir Ghanam, southwest of Tripoli. (Colin Summers/AFP/Getty Images)
Libyan rebels come under fire from Gadhafi loyalists in Bir Ghanam, southwest of Tripoli. (Colin Summers/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada, siding with rebels, shuts Libyan embassy Add to ...

Canada is shutting Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan embassy, an action to emphasize Ottawa’s support for the rebels in that country.

In a statement Monday night, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the diplomats now have five business days to leave the country. He added Ottawa was cutting the diplomats’ access to embassy bank accounts in Canada.

The federal government kicked out five diplomats in May, saying they had engaged in “inappropriate” activities – a hint at allegations they had engaged in spying on or intimidating Libyan-Canadians.

But Mr. Baird did not immediately announce that diplomats from the rebels’ National Transitional Council will take the place of the pro-Gadhafi embassy. Britain moved to allow a rebel mission in London when it recently expelled Col. Gadhafi’s diplomats, and the rebels’ Washington envoy, Ali Ajauli, travelled to Ottawa three weeks ago to press Canada to do the same.

“Canada declares all remaining diplomats at the Libyan embassy in Ottawa personae non grata, effective immediately. This is the latest step Canada has taken to isolate and de-legitimize the Gadhafi regime.

“These people now have five business days to vacate the embassy and leave the country.

“As part of this declaration, we are also cutting off these diplomats’ access to the embassy’s bank accounts,” the statement said.\

Col. Gadhafi's regime recalled its ambassador to Canada, Abdulrahman Abututa, three weeks ago, leaving the embassy in the hands of a charge d'affaires.

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