UN applauds AU
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