The African Union denounced reports of racist attacks in Libya on Wednesday and the head of its executive arm urged the new rebel government there to disassociate itself from the violence.
The chairperson of the AU commission, Jean Ping, said many members of the African Union had not yet recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya because of reports of anti-black violence.
Libya’s former leader, ousted strongman Muammar Gaddafi, recruited many sub-Saharan Africans into his armed forces and since rebel forces seized Tripoli last month there have been reports of reprisals against blacks.
“Blacks are being killed. Blacks hare having their throats slit. Blacks are accused of being mercenaries. Do you think it’s normal in a country that’s a third black that blacks are confused with mercenaries?” Ping demanded.
Global watchdogs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as media organisations including AFP, have gathered reports of African migrants and residents in Libya being murdered in racist attacks.
“There are mercenaries in Libya, many of them are black, but there are not only blacks and not all blacks there are mercenaries. Sometimes, when they are white, they call them ‘technical advisors’,” Ping noted sarcastically.
Gaddafi’s former regime employed mercenaries from Serbia and Croatia, and the rebel forces that ousted him were supported by agents and special forces from France and Britain — including some from the private sector.
Ping called on the NTC to “disassociate” itself from the gangs carrying out lynchings if it hopes to persuade more African countries to renew ties.
“We have asked that which we call the ‘treatment’ being inflicted on blacks should not simply be denounced, but that the authority in place dissociate itself from them,” he said, at a news conference in Paris.
Many AU members were allied to Gaddafi’s regime, and some were angered by Nato’s involvement in his overthrow, believing African problems should have African solutions. Ping said the AU wanted a broad-based government in Libya.
And he warned that the rebellion had left Libya unstable and its huge arms caches prey to looting by extremists and smugglers.
“Africa has become an arms transit zone. Where will these weapons end up? There are even sophisticated weapons ending up in Palestine. That’s what the Palestinian foreign minister told me,” he said. — Sapa-AFP