President Zuma says the AU will not recognise Libya's National Transitional Council while there is still fighting in the country.
The African Union has expressed support for “the Libyan people”, but stopped short of acknowledging the rebel National Transitional Council as Libya’s legitimate government.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said the AU could not recognise the rebel council while there was still fighting in Libya.
“If there is fighting, there is fighting. So we can’t stand here and say this is the legitimate [government] now. The process is fluid. That’s part of what we inform countries—whether there is an authority to recognise,” Zuma told reporters after the meeting of the AU’s emergency Peace and Security Council meeting on Friday in Addis Ababa.
At least 20 African states within the 54-member AU have individually recognised the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government.
“According to the tally we’ve been keeping, 20 African countries have recognised the NTC as the government,” an AU official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Nigeria, Rwanda and Ethiopia, where the AU is headquartered, were among several member states who had been lobbying the organisation to recognise the NTC, officials said.
Of the 15-member council, only the presidents from Djibouti, Uganda and South Africa were at the meeting.
The AU has, however, urged support for an “inclusive” transition.
After the AU’s commissioner for peace and security, Ramtane Lamamra, said the council had called for the formation of “an inclusive transitional government, the establishment of a constitutional and legislative framework for the democratic transformation of Libya as well as for support towards the organisation of elections and a national reconciliation process”.
Friends and favours
The AU has opposed the Nato air raids against Gaddafi and repeatedly called for dialogue between the Libyan leader and the rebels, but its efforts have largely been ignored by the rebels and the Western countries involved in the Nato air strike campaign against Gaddafi regime targets.
“The AU peace and security council is weighted with countries who have backed Gaddafi in the past or owe him favours. They will not recognise the NTC,” one senior Western diplomat told Reuters.
Officials at the talks said the 15-member council was split almost in half between countries that have recognised the NTC and countries who have not. The council takes in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Libya, Namibia, South Africa, Djibouti, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Mauritania.
The NTC announced on Friday they would move their leadership from the eastern city of Benghazi to Tripoli, where they still face resistance from die-hard regime loyalists.
Gaddafi’s whereabouts however remain unknown despite an intensive search by rebel forces, and on Thursday he broadcast a new audio message calling on the populace to take up arms.—AFP, Reuters, Staff Reporter
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade cling to power appears to be in increasing jeopardy as anti-government protesters grow more impatient. For more news click here.