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South Africa’s Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma will take over as Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) on Monday October 15 replacing Jean Ping of Gabon, who lost an election for the top post in July.
The handover ceremony between the outgoing and the incoming chairperson is set to take place at the African Union new conference centre in the presence of President of Benin and Chairperson of the African Union, Boni Yayi and Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, Ambassadors, and other invited guests.
During his term in office, Jean Ping managed the transition of the African Union Mission in Sudan, AMIS, the first peacekeeping body deployed by the continent to the troubled Darfur region in western Sudan. He also managed the deployment of AU peacekeeping force in Somalia and emphasised the principle of African solution to African problems.
Ping, who replaced Prof. Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali in 2008, helped to oversee the most complex political crises in Africa, going against international expectations for an early intervention of the International Criminal Court according to some observers.
Meanwhile in South Africa, Johannesburg President Jacob Zuma led a government delegation in a state banquet on Monday October 8 to bid a final farewell to its outgoing Home Affairs Minister and the new chairperson of the AUC.
“She knows the role it can play to promote the political and socio-economic development of the continent as well as to boost its position internationally,” Zuma said during the state banquet.
According to some observers the challenge facing Dlamini Zuma would be to deliver on the reformist agenda expected from her, which aims to achieve a more effective AU.
There was also the challenge of bringing about peace and stability in several conflict-ridden regions of the continent such as the Sahel, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Currently, the UN identifies eight countries as conflict spots in Africa. Speaking of her appointment, Dlamini Zuma reiterated her commitment to ensuring that all 54 member states worked together to resolve the continent’s problems.
“We need to find African solutions to African problems. It is not a responsibility of one person but it’s the responsibility of the collective.”
She promised to extend an olive branch to all AU member states, even the countries that did not vote for her.
“It is important that we work together to fulfil our task of ensuring a peaceful and prosperous continent” she added.