The African Union officially recognized on Tuesday Libya’s National Transitional Council as the country’s legitimate leadership, AFP reported.

The announcement was transmitted by the office of South African President Jacob Zuma and came six days after he hosted a meeting of the AU’s special panel on Libya in Pretoria.

The AU was previously reluctant to formally recognize Libya’s new leadership, a fact that had created a split on the continent as about 20 nations had already established ties with the NTC.

The president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who holds the AU’s rotating chair, made the announcement after consulting with the panel in New York, the AU statement said.

According to the statement, Obiang Nguema “hereby announces that the African Union recognizes the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the representative of the Libyan people as they form an all-inclusive transitional government that will occupy the Libyan seat at the African Union.”

The statement goes on to say, “The African Union stands ready to support the Libyan people... as they rebuild their country towards a united, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Libya.”

Earlier this month in a conference in Paris, the NTC gave assurances that it would work to meet key AU concerns, promising that they remained committed to the African continent and to building national unity.

The AU subsequently said it was encouraged by the promises made by the (NTC) and would discuss with its member states the possibility of recognizing the interim leadership.