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AU recognizes new Libyan leadership

By the CNN Wire Staff
September 21, 2011 -- Updated 1119 GMT (1919 HKT)
NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil during a meeting with Barack Obama at the United Nations in the U.S.
NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil during a meeting with Barack Obama at the United Nations in the U.S.
  • The body pledges to support the National Transitional Council
  • The recognition marks another setback for ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi
  • South Africa also says it recognizes the new Libyan leadership

(CNN) -- African Union officials have recognized the new Libyan government, marking another setback for ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The body, made up of 54 nations, pledged to support the National Transitional Council as it works toward establishing an inclusive government.

"The African Union stands ready to support the Libyan people ... as they rebuild their country towards a united, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Libya," the bloc said in a statement Tuesday.

It urged Libyan stakeholders to promote national unity, reconciliation and democracy.

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South Africa, a major player in the continent, also said it recognizes the new Libyan leadership .

"The South African government notes and welcomes the decision of the African Union to recognize the National Transitional Council as the representative of the Libyan people," the government said in a statement.

South African President Jacob Zuma has led the African Union mediation group on Libya, and has visited the North African nation as part of the peace efforts.

Zuma has slammed NATO's enforcement of the U.N. resolution authorizing protection of civilians during the Libyan civil war.

"We strongly believe that the resolution is being abused for regime change," Zuma said in June. "These actions undermine the efforts of the African Union in finding solutions to the problems facing its member states."

Before Tuesday, the AU had been slow to recognize the new leadership. Gadhafi served as chairman of the pan-African body in 2009.

The African Union also urged the new leaders to protect foreign workers amid reports that African migrants have been targeted over suspicions that they are pro-Gadhafi mercenaries.

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