African Union fails to elect new chairman

African leaders attending the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa were on Monday forced to postpone voting for a new Chairman of the continental grouping, after three rounds failed to determine a clear winner.

Jean Ping of Gabon, chairman of the AU Commission since 2008, was vying for a second term against South Africa's Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who would have become the first woman to head the AU Commission.

This summit is the first since the death of Libya’s former dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who was one of the original founders and an influential force on the continent for decades. And even in death, Gaddafi is said to have influenced proceedings.

There was speculation that Ping lost some votes because he did not fully support mediation by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and the ceasefire plan backed by the African Union in Libya. The Gabonese leader supported NATO and the former Libyan rebels.

Other reports said Monday’s voting split the organisation into ‘anglophone’ versus ‘francophone’ blocs. But in the end, Dlamini-Zuma withdrew her candidacy and forced a fourth round. However, Ping failed to secure the two thirds majority required.

Finally it was decided that the deputy chairman, Erastus Mwencha of Kenya, will take the role of acting chairman until the next round of voting, scheduled to take place at the next AU summit in Malawi in July.

The African leaders from over 50 countries are meeting in the new AU headquarters, which was officially opened on Saturday and was financed and built by China, at a cost of US$200 million.

Robert Mugabe, who is in Addis Ababa for the summit, is believed to be lobbying support for early elections in Zimbabwe, without implementing the reforms he agreed to in the Global Political Agreement, creating the coalition government. – SW Radio Africa

Post published in: Africa News

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