New AU Commission head chosen
Chad minister set for hot seat
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.