Uganda last night made a dramatic U-turn to recognise the National Transition Council as Libya’s genuine government hours after the country’s deposed leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was killed in Sirte.
State Minister for International Affairs Henry Oryem-Okello said “the current position is that the AU recognised the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people following a statement issued by President Obiang Nguema on September 19”.
The Equatorial Guinea President is the present chairman of the continental body that steadfastly opposed foreign military intervention in support of local armed opposition fighters that toppled Gaddafi in August.
“Therefore Uganda’s position on NTC,” said Mr Oryem-Okello, “is within the context of the African Union position.”
This newspaper understands that AU Commission chairman, Mr Jean Ping, four days ago wrote to African governments, alerting them about President Nguema’ letter extending embrace to NTC it loathed.
In an apparent sign of lack of coordination within government, President Museveni’s deputy Principal Private Secretary Kintu Nyago separately said by telephone that Uganda’s opposition to the violent political change in Libya remained unchanged.
“This isn’t about Gaddafi because he had a government - people he was working with,” said Mr Nyago. As a result, he said, even if Gaddafi was killed, the official coterie he leaves behind must be absorbed in the new leadership to achieve meaningful peace.
Mr Nyago said like the AU demanded, Uganda would only recognise the NTC victory if its officials constitute an all-inclusive government, craft a new constitution and hold democratic elections.
“Those people (NTC forces) have no mandate; they came through Nato bombing,” Mr Nyago said, alluding to AU’s principle opposed to forcible change of governments on the continent.
Gaddafi was a father figure of sorts for AU, bankrolling about 30 per cent its budget. The slain leader’s sometimes abrasive and treacherous behaviour, including of supporting a coup in one member country and suffocating it in another, as well as a forcible decision to rush an AU one government with himself at the helm, strained his relations with many counterparts, among them President Museveni.
That notwithstanding, Kampala and AU stood with Gaddafi in his hour of need during Nato-bolstered armed insurrection, and Mr Museveni spearheaded an unsuccessful diplomatic charm to save the Libyan leader by presenting a case to Western leaders that the country’s political question should be resolved through dialogue. This, Mr Museveni argued, should be managed by Africans.