African Union recognises NTC as Libya government

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The African Union recognised the National Transitional Council (NTC) as Libya's de facto government yesterday, removing another piece of diplomatic support for the country's ousted leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The pan-African body, which has frequently been criticised for its ponderous reaction to events on its doorstep, said in a statement that it was ready to support the NTC in its efforts to build an inclusive government.

It also urged the NTC to protect African migrant workers following reports of black Africans being targeted by militia units hunting down mercenaries loyal to Col Gaddafi.

Most European nations, the United States and Nigeria recognised the NTC from 22 August, while China officially acknowledged the Benghazi-based group as Libya's "ruling authority" on 12 September.

The African Union's switch is likely to bring pressure to bear on leaders such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who expelled Libya's ambassador at the end of August after the envoy switched allegiance from Col Gaddafi to the NTC.