The African Union and the Libyan Crisis: Putting the Records Straight

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African issues have long suffered from either a lack of exposure in the mainstream media, marginalization and misrepresentation or from outright silencing. The case of the African Union’s intervention in Libya is a classic example of how African efforts go unreported or are twisted to suit a hostile agenda.

The Commission has been baffled by erroneous reports that the AU’s actions in Libya were motivated by a desire to protect Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and that, following his downfall, the Union was delaying recognition of the new Libyan authorities in order to force the inclusion of the Libyan former leader’s supporters into the new Government.

There is nothing further from the truth than these assertions. They run contrary to the decisions taken by the relevant AU organs on the Libyan matter, as they do to the followup actions that have been taken by the Commission. It is against this background that I have, on behalf of the Commission, decided to address publicly the key issue of the AU’s intervention in Libya.

It is important to start by situating the AU’s efforts in the context of its reaction to what has now come to be known as the “Arab Spring”. The popular uprisings that occurred in Tunisia and in Egypt posed serious doctrinal problems because they do not correspond to any of the cases envisaged by the 2000 Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government. While the AU, like other
international players, did not anticipate these developments, it nonetheless reacted creatively.

Indeed, the AU exhibited the necessary flexibility, basing its response not on a dogmatic interpretation of the existing texts, but rather on the need to contribute to the attainment of the overall AU objective of consolidating democracy in the continent. Notably, the African leaders welcomed the developments in Tunisia and Egypt, stressing that they provided an opportunity for Member States to renew their commitment to the AU agenda for democracy and governance, to inject additional momentum to efforts being exerted in this regard and to implement socioeconomic reforms adapted to each national situation.

For a number of reasons, the democratic revolution in Libya followed a different path from those of Tunisia and Egypt.

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