SA leads AU opposition to Libyan rebels

2011-08-27 18:38

South Africa led the charge at the African Union (AU) summit on Friday to prevent a Libyan rebel movement from being recognised as the country’s ruling authority.

The South African view prevailed at the summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and yesterday the AU said it would not give the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) the authority to occupy Libya’s seat at the AU until a transitional authority representing rebels and elements from Muammar Gaddafi’s government was established.

“Article 30 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union states that governments that come to power through unconstitutional means would not be allowed to participate in the activities of the union,” the AU said in its statement.

South Africa also refused the NTC access to Libyan funds frozen through UN sanctions until it was clear their release would not lead to legitimising the NTC.

According to Mehari Maru, an Addis Ababa-based analyst who attended the summit, South Africa and Uganda squared up against Nigeria, Djibouti and Rwanda on the status of the NTC.

A week ago the Libyan ambassador to the AU and his deputy defected to the rebels but they were immediately kicked out of the AU.

Algeria supported the South African view but its reasons were that the NTC contained elements of al-Qaeda and therefore should not be recognised.

“This is the AU’s way of settling scores. They felt marginalised by Nato’s intervention in Libya and felt the AU was not given due recognition in the process,” Maru said.

He told City Press the AU was ignoring the actual situation in Libya.

“They are being shortsighted. There is a mismatch between what is normative and what is happening on the ground.

They insist on marginalising the rebels, saying the war is not over yet even though the reality on the ground is clear – the rebels are in charge,” he said.

The rebels are also said to be hostile towards the AU and African countries because they believe their continental neighbours did not support them in their struggle against Gaddafi.

The rebels are therefore closer to the countries of the Middle East, especially Qatar, and European neighbours like Italy and France.

The rebels announced this week that they planned to hold elections in Libya within the next eight to 12 months.

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