When are rebels no longer rebels?
When they are officially recognized as a government. And that is happening right about now for Libya's rebels.
Libya's National Transitional Council was recognized Tuesday by the African Union as the representative of the Libyan people, according to VOA.
And Wednesday the United Nations announced it now backs the National Transitional Council.
South Africa also announced that it backs the National Transitional Council, according to South Africa.info. This is a quick change for the Pretoria government which had until very recently insisted that it would only deal with the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
"Libya is slowly emerging from a bloody conflict that saw many killed in their dtermination to seek a better life and to realize their legitimate aspirations," said South African President Jacob Zuma in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting. "The situation in Libya has improved, but there is still a long way for the Libyans to go in achieving lasting peace, security and stability."
Zuma said Libya need international assistance for reconstruction, reconciliation and rebuilding efforts in Libya.
"U.N. assistance in this endeavor is critical, especially as it will also serve as the foundation for coordinating all efforts to support Libya's post-conflict reconstruction. Libyan national ownership and inclusiveness of the reconstruction process is critical."
Zuma also called for the end of the "no fly zone" over Libya and an end to the NATO military campaign in Libya.
The African Union, representing 54 African countries, said it "stands ready to support the Libyan people."
In New York officials from the National Transitional Council described their plans to world leaders in New York to eliminate the last pockets of pro-Gaddafi resistance, meeting the demand for reconstruction and compensating families who lost members during the conflict.
And as another step toward becoming the new government of Libya, the rebels green, black and red flag with a crescent and a star was adopted by the U.N. as the flag of Libya. The tricolor banner was raised with the flags of the 192 other countries that are members of the U.N.
So now it is time to start referring to the rebels as the transitional government.