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Report - African Union summit

Ping defends African Union mediation in Libyan uprising

Reuters/Stringer
Text by: Laura Angela Bagnetto in Addis Ababa
3 min

African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Jean Ping defended the African Union’s position on Libya during his address to African foreign ministers at the AU summit meeting on Thursday. The country’s new rulers will not exploit the AU for “political ambitions”, Libya’s foreign minister told RFI at the Addis Ababa meeting.

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The AU's “difficulty” with the Libyan revolution was that it did not start with peaceful demonstrations “like elsewhere” during the Arab Spring’s uprisings, Ping said.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

The AU came under fire for preferring mediation with deposed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi to support for the rebels until the new government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), was officially recognised by the regional bloc last September.

The AU was worried about the possibility of the “Somaliasation” of Libya because of the armed uprising, Ping said.

But the National Transitional Council welcomed him with open arms earlier this month, Ping noted in his speech, and the AU is to open an office in Libya.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

Contrary to published reports, Ping said, Libya had been in arrears on its dues to the AU. Previously, Kadhafi had generated support from smaller AU members by paying their dues, as well as pushing large sums of money towards Africa projects. The NTC has pledged its commitment to the AU, Ping said.

In an interview with RFI, Libyan Foreign Minister Achour Ben Khayal said that the “new” Libya will have a different relationship to the AU.

“Our role will be of course, different,” said Ben Khayal. “Our policy will be based on mutual respect, on being a member who is participating like other members.

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

“We are not going to use any organisation for any political ambitions, so from this point of view we have assured them we will be a member of the organisation based on the new Libya, not the old one, of course.”

Egypt and Tunisia were lauded by Ping for their “peaceful and popular uprisings” and their quest for democracy.

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