UN ap­plauds AU

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SHAN­NON EBRAHIM Group For­eign Ed­i­tor

Par­tic­i­pants gather for a group photo for the 28th Or­di­nary Ses­sion of the Assem­bly of the African Union in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, yes­ter­day. UN sec­re­tary­gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res com­mended African coun­tries for open­ing their bor­ders to refugees and peo­ple flee­ing vi­o­lence. Chad’s For­eign Min­is­ter Moussa Faki Ma­hamat, in­set, was elected chair­per­son of the AU, suc­ceed­ing South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

CHAD’S for­eign min­is­ter Moussa Faki Ma­hamat has clinched Africa’s top job as AU chair, ush­er­ing in a new era of lead­er­ship for the con­ti­nent.

Faki was con­firmed the new chair of the AU Com­mis­sion yes­ter­day, his elec­tion be­ing con­sid­ered by many at the AU sum­mit in Ad­dis Ababa as a huge win for Africa.

His ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in con­flict res­o­lu­tion across the con­ti­nent was widely recog­nised as an im­por­tant as­set, as well as his in­volve­ment in fight­ing ter­ror­ism.

“Faki also won over a num­ber of coun­tries with his clear ideas on the im­por­tance of re­gional in­te­gra­tion and the need to make the AU self-re­liant,” Dr Siphamandla Zondi, act­ing head of the po­lit­i­cal science de­part­ment at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria, told The Star.

“SADC (South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity) had hoped to re­tain the po­si­tion of AU chair for one more term, but fielded a can­di­date who waged a weak cam­paign,” Zondi said.

African mem­ber states chose the best can­di­date for the job on merit, with­out be­ing swayed by who had the best­funded or the strong­est diplo­matic cam­paign be­hind them.

While Faki’s cre­den­tials have been largely un­der-re­ported, and his cam­paign for AU chair was not as ro­bust as some of the other five can­di­dates, his com­pa­ra­ble wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence won the day.

Faki faced stiff com­pe­ti­tion from Kenyan For­eign Min­is­ter Amina Mo­hamed, whose gov­ern­ment had en­gaged in vo­cif­er­ous cam­paign­ing for her can­di­da­ture. A num­ber of West African coun­tries had also backed Sene­gal’s Ab­doulaye Bathily, whose can­di­da­ture was strongly sup­ported by France.

Bathily re­cently served as the spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral for Cen­tral Africa.

“The field­ing of Bathily and Faki split the fran­co­phone vote, but the ma­jor­ity of fran­co­phone states con­sid­ered Faki a safer op­tion to Bathily, whose coun­try is con­sid­ered a pawn of France,” Zondi said.

A num­ber of diplo­mats at the AU have ar­gued that what Africa needed more than any­thing at this junc­ture was an ex­pe­ri­enced diplo­mat who had been en­grossed in the in­tri­ca­cies of the con­flicts rag­ing on the con­ti­nent. See Page 7


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