ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - Aug 26 2011 14:06
The African Union has expressed support for "the Libyan people", but stopped short of acknowledging the rebel National Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate government.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said the AU could not recognise the rebel council while there was still fighting in Libya.
"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 after the meeting of the AU's emergency Peace and Security Council meeting on Friday in Addis Ababa.
At least 20 African states within the 54-member AU have individually recognised the NTC as Libya's legitimate government.
"According to the tally we've been keeping, 20 African countries have recognised the NTC as the government," an AU official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Nigeria, Rwanda and Ethiopia, where the AU is headquartered, were among several member states who had been lobbying the organisation to recognise the NTC, officials said.
Of the 15-member council, only the presidents from Djibouti, Uganda and South Africa were at the meeting.
The AU has, however, urged support for an "inclusive" transition.
After the AU's commissioner for peace and security, Ramtane Lamamra, said the council had called for the formation of "an inclusive transitional government, the establishment of a constitutional and legislative framework for the democratic transformation of Libya as well as for support towards the organisation of elections and a national reconciliation process".