African Union Recognizes Libya’s NTC as Governing Authority

The African Union agreed to recognize the National Transitional Council as the governing authority in Libya, almost a month after its forces entered Tripoli to oust Muammar Qaddafi from power.

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, chairman of the 54-nation AU, made the decision after consulting with African leaders in New York yesterday, the group said in an e-mailed statement today.

The AU refused to recognize the NTC as recently as Aug. 26, citing ongoing fighting in the North African nation, even as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Botswana took steps to back the opposition forces. The AU said today its support is based on the NTC forming an inclusive government and that it will work towards “national unity,” the group said.

“The African Union recognizes the National Transitional Council as the representative of the Libyan people as they form an all-inclusive transitional government that will occupy the Libyan seat at the African Union,” the statement said.

France, the U.K. and Turkey have reestablished diplomatic ties with Libya, while the U.S., which participated in airstrikes in support of the NTC, will reopen its embassy in Tripoli this week. President Barack Obama will meet with the council’s Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil today, according to the White House.

Support for Airstrikes

South Africa supported a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing airstrikes by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to protect Libyan citizens. President Jacob Zuma, who was a member of the AU’s ad-hoc committee on Libya, said on Aug. 23 the resolution had been “abused” to oust Qaddafi’s government, undermining the AU’s plans on seeking a ceasefire.

The NTC gave the AU chairman assurances in a letter on Sept. 5 that the group is committed to Africa, will bring all Libyan parties together to rebuild the country and is working to protect foreign workers, including African immigrants, the AU said today.

During four decades of rule, Qaddafi cultivated close ties with many African countries as he championed the formation of closer political union on the continent.

(Updates with AU’s comments in fourth paragraph.)
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