By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 26, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) — The African Union (AU)on Friday declined to recognize Libya’s National Transition Council (NTC) as the sole legitimate governing authority for the North African state.
- Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) (Reuters)
Instead, the AU Peace and Security Commission which dominated by states supporters to the former Libyan leader called for an inclusive government representing all the political forces in the country including Gaddafi supporters.
The position of the African body contrasts with Arab League support to the rebels. This week it recognized the National Transitional Council as representative of the Libya people after suspending Libya’s membership since last February.
Following a meeting attended by three presidents the AUPSC refrained from supporting the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government, saying there are not yet in full control of the capital Tripoli.
The AU Instead sought for an inclusive transitional government calling on Libyan parties to set up a transitional government ahead of elections.
The AU “encourages the Libyan stakeholders to accelerate the process leading to the formation of an all-inclusive transitional government that would be welcome to occupy a seat in the African Union,” AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, told reporters.
Following the AU Peace and Security Council meeting in Addis Ababa on Friday, South African President Jacob Zuma told reporters that it is yet early to say the rebels are legitimate.
"There is a process in Libya where in the NTC forces are in the process of taking over Tripoli ... but there is still that fighting going on." Zuma said adding “So we can’t therefore stand and say this is the legitimate one now".
An African official who attended the meeting told Reuters that a number of delegates were hostile to the NTC and termed it as "stooges of NATO and the West".
The members of the AUPSC are : Benin, Burundi, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
Despite AU’s stand, over 20 African countries have already recognized the Libyan rebel leadership with Ethiopia and Nigeria joining the queue of countries on Wednesday. Gaddafi was an important supporter for arch-foe Eritrea.
“In the interest of peace and stability, and wellbeing of the people of Libya, the governments of Ethiopia and Nigeria have decided to jointly recognize the NTC as the interim and legitimate authority in Libya,” said a joint statement released after Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Nigerian Foreign Minister; Olubenga Ashiru held discussion in Addis Ababa on Wednesday..
“Ethiopia and Nigeria are on the side of the NTC at this important juncture of the history of Libya,”
“We stand ready to extend to them the support necessary to facilitate the achievement of the difficult tasks of establishing an inclusive transitional government, reconstruction, national reconciliation, and peace building in order to meet the yearnings and legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for human rights, democracy, the rule of law and good governance.” the joint statement added.
Libyan opposition forces that advanced on the capital, Tripoli last week, are reportedly closer to topple Moammar Gadhafi’s 42 year grip on power. However the whereabouts of the Libyan leader remains to be unknown.