Black African refugee stands at the Libya-Egypt border
Black African refugee stands at the Libya-Egypt border Reuters

The African Union (AU) will not recognize the Transitional national Council (TNC) of Libya as the legitimate government of that country because they charge that rebels in Libya have been indiscriminately killing black Africans, confusing innocent migrant workers with mercenaries.

Moammar Gaddafi, who has long helped to bankroll the AU, has recruited fighters from sub-Saharan African countries as his soldiers and bodyguards.

However, the Chairperson of the Commission of the AU Jean Ping believes this is jeopardizing the lives of tens of thousands of black Africans who have migrated to Libya in recent years to find work.

“We need clarification because the TNC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries …. They are killing normal workers,” Ping told reporters on Monday in Ethiopia. [They seem to think] all blacks are mercenaries. If you do that it means [that the] one-third of the population of Libya which is black is also mercenaries. They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them.

He added: Maybe it's looters, uncontrolled forces. But then the government should say something, condemn this. We want to see a signal that the African workers that are there, they should be evacuated.

However, Ping did not go into details with his accusations.

Ping conceded that the TNC is now in control of Tripoli, but he also pleaded with both sides of Libya’s civil war to “stop the killing.”

Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for TNC, denied the AU’s claims.

These allegations have been made during the early days of the revolution,” he said. “This never took place. If happened, it will be the Gadhafi forces. Until now, we [keep] finding mass graves of the newly liberated cities.

Human rights groups have also expressed their concerns about reports of alleged beatings, detention and killings of black Africans and others in Libya – however, most of these atrocities are believed to have been committed by Gaddafi loyalists, not rebels.

Ping also accused some Libyan rebel leaders of insulting black Africans by claiming they favored Gadhafi.

The [rebels'] attitude has been negative all along. I went to Benghazi. We have treated them equally, he said.