New AU Com­mis­sion head cho­sen

Chad min­is­ter set for hot seat

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - AD­DIS ABABA

THE FOR­EIGN min­is­ter of Chad, Moussa Faki Ma­hamat, will be re­plac­ing AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

This fol­lowed a vote by African heads of state and gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day af­ter­noon dur­ing the AU sum­mit in the Ethiopian cap­i­tal.

Af­ter the ini­tial round of vot­ing, only Ma­hamat and Kenya’s For­eign Min­is­ter Amina Mo­hamed were left to con­test the po­si­tion, with Ma­hamat even­tu­ally emerg­ing vic­to­ri­ous.

Six months ago, Dlamini Zuma, who de­clined a sec­ond four-year term, had her ten­ure ex­tended in Ki­gali, Rwanda, af­ter elec­tions to re­place her were in­con­clu­sive. Dlamini Zuma, an aca­demic and politi­cian, was the first woman to lead the 50-year-old or­gan­i­sa­tion.

At the week­end, the Min­is­ter of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co-op­er­a­tion, Maite Nkoana-Masha­bane, said this time around “there would be no choice” but to con­clude the elec­tions.

Five can­di­dates were vy­ing for the post, in­clud­ing Ma­hamat, Sene­gal’s Ab­doulaye Bathily, a former UN spe­cial en­voy for Cen­tral Africa, Botswana’s for­eign min­is­ter Pelonomi Ven­son-Moitoi, Equa­to­rial Guinea’s for­eign min­is­ter Agapito Mba Mokuy and Kenya’s Mo­hamed.

In the months lead­ing to the elec­tion, Mo­hamed had cam­paigned ex­ten­sively in east Africa and was ex­pected to be a for­mi­da­ble can­di­date, but Ma­hamat, who was con­sid­ered an out­side bet, beat her in the fi­nal vote.

A Cha­dian of­fi­cial told a group of re­porters that his na­tion’s can­di­date had se­cured 39 votes in the fi­nal round. Ma­hamat, born in 1960, has served as for­eign min­is­ter since 2008. His pre­vi­ous posts also in­cluded a stint as prime min­is­ter.

In a race usu­ally re­solved in be­hind-the-scenes talks be­fore a sum­mit vote, three of the AU’s four ma­jor re­gions vied for the post – the south, the east and the largely Fran­co­phone west with some – re­gions push­ing more than one can­di­date.

The heads of state at the two­day sum­mit were also set to de­cide whether to ap­prove the re-ad­mis­sion of Morocco.

The North African king­dom quit the AU’s pre­de­ces­sor, the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of African Unity, three decades ago amid a dis­pute over the body’s recog­ni­tion of Western Sa­hara, most of which has been con­trolled by Morocco since 1976.

How­ever, King Mo­hammed VI has been mak­ing diplo­matic ef­forts over the past year to try to win Ra­bat’s read­mis­sion.

Some in­flu­en­tial African coun­tries have sup­ported the Sahrawi Repub­lic, the do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal move­ments that lay claim to the ter­ri­tory along the north­ern Sa­hara’s At­lantic seaboard. Pre­lim­i­nary meet­ings have also been dom­i­nated by a de­bate over the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC), which some African coun­tries say is a tool of Western im­pe­ri­al­ism that un­fairly tar­gets the con­ti­nent.

How­ever, Nige­ria, Botswana and other states say the Hague-based court is an im­por­tant le­gal back­stop for coun­tries whose do­mes­tic jus­tice sys­tems have been com­pro­mised by civil con­flict.

Dur­ing Dlamini Zuma’s time in charge of the AU, the med­i­cal doc­tor fo­cussed on re­form­ing the AU’s dys­func­tional in­ter­nal bu­reau­cracy and draw­ing up a long-term plan for im­prov­ing the lives of Africa’s un­der­priv­i­leged cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially women and chil­dren.

Chad’s for­eign min­is­ter, Moussa Faki Ma­hamat, has been elected chair of the AU Com­mis­sion.

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