July 26, 2011 / 1:48 PM / 9 years ago

Bulgaria to expel Libyan diplomat

SOFIA, July 26 (Reuters) - Bulgaria will proceed with plans to expel Libya’s consul after Libyan rebel forces denied he had joined their ranks in the Transitional National Council (TNC), the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The foreign ministry asked consul Ibrahim al-Furis to leave Bulgaria on Monday, prompting him to storm the embassy with a small group of diplomats and staff, and to declare that it had joined the rebels.

The ministry declined to give the reason for the expulsion.

“We will proceed with the expulsion once he leaves the embassy,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

The rebels, based in the eastern city of Benghazi, are fighting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s troops to try to end his 41-year rule in the north African country.

Al-Furis has refused to leave Bulgaria, saying he is waiting for confirmation from the rebel forces of his new position as their legal representative in Bulgaria.

But deputy foreign minister of the TNC, Salaheddin Bishari, told Sofia the consul did not belong to the council and should be expelled.

“The TNC would like to inform (you) ... that the person mentioned in your email does not belong to the TNC.  Furthermore we recommend that he should be deported according to the decision taken by the Bulgarian government,” he said in a letter to the foreign ministry.

Sofia, which recognised the TNC last month, has said it will suspend links with the embassy until it is clear who is in charge. (Created by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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