The snub showed how much influence fallen Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had on the bloc — he was one of its main financiers and presented several African leaders with large sums of money.
The stand was also at odds with the dozens of countries that have announced their recognition of the National Transitional Council, whose fighters ousted Gaddafi from his Tripoli power base this week and forced him to go on the run.
Perhaps most significantly, the Arab League backed the rebels this week, after suspending Libya’s membership when Gaddafi’s forces launched a crackdown in February to try to prevent an uprising from spreading in the east of the country.
Only three heads of state attended an emergency summit of the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, which brought together 15 members who officials said divided almost equally over whether to recognise the rebels.
“The AU peace and security council is weighted with countries who have backed Gaddafi in the past or owe him favours. They will not recognise the NTC,” one senior Western diplomat told Reuters before the AU’s communique was read out.
the council members are Zimbabwe, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Libya, Namibia, South Africa, Djibouti, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali and Mauritania.
As well as calling for an inclusive government which would theoretically include Gaddafi supporters, the communique urged a democratic transition and support for the organisation of elections and a national reconciliation process.