August 23, 2017 / 1:37 PM / in 3 months

Chad to shutter Qatar embassy, expel diplomats

N‘DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad is shuttering Qatar’s embassy and giving its diplomats 10 days to leave the country, accusing the Gulf Arab state of trying to destabilise the central African nation via its northern neighbour Libya, it said on Wednesday.

It is not the first African state to move against Qatar following its rift with other Gulf states including the United Arab Emirates and Saudia Arabia, whose charities funnel millions of dollars in aid money to west and central Africa.

Senegal said this week that it had reinstated its ambassador to Qatar after having recalled him three months ago, in a bid to encourage a peaceful resolution to the feud.

“In order to safeguard peace and security in the region, Chad calls on Qatar to cease all actions that could undermine its security as well as those of the countries of the Lake Chad basin and the Sahel,” the foreign ministry statement said.

It did not provide any details to support the accusation. The statement from Chad’s foreign ministry added that it would close its diplomatic mission in Doha and recall all personnel.

Qatari officials were not immediately available to comment.

In Libya, the UAE and Qatar, which both played key roles in backing rebels in the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, have emerged as rivals on the battlefield with conflicting interests.

The vacuum created by Gaddafi’s downfall led to a flood of weapons from state arsenals into the hands of Islamist groups who then pushed south into Africa’s Sahel nations where they launch attacks on military and civilian targets.

Today in Libya, the UAE, along with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, has backed anti-Islamist former army commander Khalifa Haftar, appointed by a government and parliament based in the east. Qatar and Turkey have supported rival Islamist-leaning factions in western Libya.

Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Additional reporting by Noah Browning in Doha and Aidan Lewis in Tunis; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Joe Bavier and Robin Pomeroy

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