African Union Elects Former Prime Minister Of Chad As New Chairman

By Dana Sanchez Published: January 30, 2017, 11:11 am
African Union electsNew African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad. Photo: Reuters/

The African Union has elected Moussa Faki Mahamat from Chad as its new commission chairman, replacing South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was elected to the post in 2012, Eyewitness News reported.

The announcement was made Monday at a summit of the 54-nation body in Addis Ababa. Also on the agenda were divisive issues of Africa’s continued participation in the International Criminal Court and Morocco’s readmission to the A.U.,  Reuters reported.

A former prime minister of Chad, Mahamat, 56, previously served as the chairman of the A.U.’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council. His boss, Chadian President Idriss Deby, has ruled the country 26 years since 1990.

While campaigning for the job, Mahamat said he dreamed of an Africa where the “sound of guns would be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories,” BBC reported. Mahamat promised to streamline the bureaucratic A.U. during his four-year term in office.

Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed was Mahamat’s main rival in the final round of voting, ENCA reported.

Mahamat won 39 votes in the final round of voting.

When African Union leaders couldn’t agree on a replacement candidate in July, Dlamini-Zuma stayed on in the job an extra six months. She is expected to announce a run for president of South Africa, which means she could succeed her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma.

Five candidates were vying to replace Dlamini-Zuma. These include:

  • Kenya’s Mohamed, who had the backing of almost all Anglophone countries, Al Jazeera reported. She is known as one of the most vocal critics of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which won her many supporters.
  • Abdoulaye Bathily, a Senegalese diplomat and academic who served as a U.N. mediator in the Central African Republic and Burundi, and had strong Moroccan support. This may have complicated his bid, Al Jazeera reported. Morocco withdrew from the A.U. in 1984 to protest against the admission of disputed Western Sahara territories. Now it wants back in.
  • Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, foreign minister of Botswana. A former journalist-turned-politician, she is a close ally of President Seretse Khama. It was predicted her chances of winning the seat were slim, Al Jazeera reported.
  •  Mba Mokuy, a senior adviser to Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang. Africa’s longest-ruling leader, Obiang  has held power in the former Spanish colony for 37 years. Mokuy’s chances were expected to be even slimmer than Venson-Moitoi’s.

Candidates came from three of the A.U.’s four major regions — the south, the east and the largely Francophone west, with more than one candidate from some regions. The race is usually resolved in behind-the-scenes talks before a summit vote, Reuters reported.




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