Libyan rebel fighters celebrate after pushing back Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Abu Salim district in Tripoli.
Libyan rebel fighters celebrate after pushing back Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Abu Salim district in Tripoli.

AU ready to recognise Libya's rebels

By Wendell Roelf Time of article published Aug 26, 2011

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The African Union could recognise rebels who ousted Muammar Gaddafi as Libya's legitimate government as early as Friday, although the AU may also want some from Gaddafi's side involved in a transition, a senior South African government source said.

AU backing of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), which has declared itself the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people, would bolster a group already recognised by more than 40 countries as the governing body of Libya.

“There is a strong likelihood that the African Union will recognise the NTC today but call for inclusion of the Gaddafi regime in the interim transitional government,” the South African government source says.

The AU's Peace and Security Council was due to meet in Ethiopia on Friday to discuss Libya. Gaddafi was one of the main driving forces behind the creation of the AU, which consists of 54 African countries.

“The reality is that the AU cannot ignore the NTC as a major player in Libya today and its stance will have to recognise that,” the source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

The AU has proposed a road map for a change in leadership in Libya that has been mostly overlooked by Western powers - a snub that analysts said has angered many African states with long ties to Gaddafi.

Libyan rebels announced a move to govern the country from Tripoli as they battled pockets of loyalists in their hunt for fugitive strongman Gaddafi, who taunted them from his hiding place.

Western powers have demanded Gaddafi's surrender and worked to help the opposition start developing the trappings of government and bureaucracy lacking in the oil-rich state after 42 years of an eccentric personality cult.

The United States and South Africa have struck a deal to allow the release of $1.5 billion in frozen funds for humanitarian aid and other civilian needs, U.N. diplomats said.

President Jacob Zuma spearheaded an AU mediation effort in Libya but two personal visits to Libya by the South African leader this year failed to produce meaningful results.

Zimbabwe, one of the few states strongly in Gaddafi's camp and seen as a possible asylum destination for him, threatened on Friday to deport the Libyan ambassador in Harare after he declared his support for the NTC. - Reuters

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