AU Recognizes Libya’s NTC, Gadhafi: Events in Libya ‘Charade’

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The African Union has recognized Libya's National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, while an audio message from former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has called the NTC's rise a “charade.”

Mr. Gadhafi's message was broadcast Tuesday on Syria's Al-Rai television. The station has carried several messages from Mr. Gadhafi, who has not been seen since provisional authority forces seized the capital, Tripoli, last month.

The 54-member African Union announced Tuesday it is ready to support the NTC in building an inclusive government. The AU had been reluctant to recognize the provisional authority since some AU nations had close ties to Mr. Gadhafi's government.

The interim government in Libya said Tuesday its forces have captured an airport and other locations in the southern desert city of Sabha, one of Mr. Gadhafi's last remaining strongholds.

A military spokesman for the National Transitional Council, Colonel Ahmed Bani, said Monday that NTC flags were flying over the airport, an old Italian fort and other strategic buildings inside Sabha.

The city, 650 kilometers south of Tripoli, controls the main trail to neighboring Niger – an escape route used by members of Mr. Gadhafi's entourage.

Any advance on Sabha would be an important boost for Libya's revolutionary forces. NTC fighters are struggling to oust pro-Gadhafi loyalists from the towns of Bani Walid and Sirte, and to contain disunity within their ranks.

Meanwhile a human rights group says European countries are not doing enough to help resettle thousands of refugees living on Libya's borders in Tunisia and Egypt.

London-based Amnesty International estimates 5,000 refugees – mainly Africans – cannot go back to Libya and face possible persecution if they return to their home countries. The group says the European response has been “abysmal,” with eight nations so far offering to take in fewer than 700 refugees.

In New York, the United Nations said it has chosen British diplomat and rights activist Ian Martin to head its new mission in Libya.

Martin is a former secretary general of Amnesty International and a former U.N. special envoy in Nepal. He is expected to lead up to 200 U.N. staff with an initial three-month mandate to help with a range of tasks from electoral assistance to police training.