From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Aug 26 2011 - 14:56:54 EDT
AU urges inclusive Libya govt, setback to rebels
Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:06pm GMT
* African Union won't recognise rebels until fighting stops
* Delay reflects strong Gaddafi ties to some African leaders (Repeats,
removing extra words)
By Barry Malone
ADDIS ABABA, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The African Union called on Friday for the
formation of an inclusive transitional government in Libya, saying it could
not recognise the rebels as sole legitimate representatives of the nation
while fighting continued.
The snub showed how much influence fallen Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had
on the bloc -- he was one of its main financiers and presented several
African leaders with large sums of money.
The stand was also at odds with the dozens of countries that have announced
their recognition of the National Transitional Council, whose fighters
ousted Gaddafi from his Tripoli power base this week and forced him to go on
Perhaps most significantly, the Arab League backed the rebels this week,
after suspending Libya's membership when Gaddafi's forces launched a
crackdown in February to try to prevent an uprising from spreading in the
east of the country.
Only three heads of state attended an emergency summit of the AU Peace and
Security Council in Addis Ababa, which brought together 15 members who
officials said divided almost equally over whether to recognise the rebels.
"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 before the AU's communique
was read out.
the council members are Zimbabwe, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Libya,
Namibia, South Africa, Djibouti, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad Benin, Ivory Coast,
Mali and Mauritania.
As well as calling for an inclusive government which would theoretically
include Gaddafi supporters, the communique urged a democratic transition and
support for the organisation of elections and a national reconciliation
"(The council) strongly reaffirms that the AU stands with the people of
Libya and encourages all the parties in Libya to come together and negotiate
a peaceful process that would lead to democracy," said Ramtane Lamamra, AU
Commissioner for Peace and Security.
AFRICAN SUPPORT FOR GADDAFI
But South African leader Jacob Zuma, who has been a vocal Gaddafi supporter,
said the pan-African bloc would not recognise the rebels while fighting was
still going on. The NTC has won recognition from more than 40 countries, and
an AU aide said 20 of them were African.
"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.
Two of the three heads of state at the summit, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and
Zuma, have been vocal supporters of Gaddafi. Zimbabwe is one of the few
states strongly in Gaddafi's camp and is seen as a place where he may seek
Zuma led an AU mediation effort in Libya but his two personal visits this
year produced no meaningful results.
The AU proposed a road map for a change in leadership in Libya that has been
largely ignored by Western powers -- a rebuff analysts said has angered many
African states with long ties to Gaddafi.
The African Union was founded at a summit in Gaddafi's home town, Sirte, on
Sept. 9, 1999. State-owned Afriqiyah Airways marks that date by painting the
motif "9.9.99" on the tail of each of its jets.
(Reporting by Barry Malone; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Tim Pearce)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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