from Africa in Transition

The African Union on Libya

March 14, 2011

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Zimbabwe's President Mugabe attends the 16th African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

Despite Qaddafi’s use of African mercenaries and the subsequent backlash against African migrant workers, the African Union has condemned the potential use of foreign intervention in Libya. This decision contrasts starkly with the Arab League’s recent call for a no-fly zone. The AU’s decision implies some support for Qaddafi and highlights sub-Saharan Africa’s strong opposition to outside military intervention. This is not entirely surprising: Qaddafi has been an important financier of the AU in the past, and he has backing within the organization, notably from Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. There is probably some implicit support as well among at least a few African strong men who have an interest in the failure of North Africa’s popular uprisings.