African Union leaders on Monday elected Chad’s candidate to chair the 54-nation body, headquartered in the Ethiopian capital.
In the election held at the AU summit, Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat secured 39 votes in the final round beating Kenya’s top diplomat Amina Mohamed to secure the post as head of the commission of the AU.
The 56-year-old and father-of-five succeeds South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman to lead the bloc of 54 states, who did not seek a second term in office after completing a four-year term.
Kenya was the first to congratulate the newly elected AU chief. “Kenya congratulates him on a race well won. We pledge to work with him to defend the pan-African agenda of integration for Africa, as well as democracy, sovereignty and prosperity for all of its people,” a statement by Kenya’s State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said.
Faki is not new to the workings of the AU, having previously served as the body’s chair of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council.
Heads of state from the 54-member countries cast their vote in a private ballot. A candidate needs to secure at least a two-thirds majority, 36 votes, to be declared winner.
Outgoing commissioner, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stayed in the post an extra six months after leaders failed to agree on a candidate in July.
She is now a contender to succeed her ex-husband, Jacob Zuma, as South Africa’s presidentg
Other issues being discussed at the summit include 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.
The issue of International Criminal Court (ICC), which countries such as South Africa and Kenya say is a tool of Western imperialism is also being discussed.
However, Nigeria, Botswana and others insist state the Hague-based court is an important legal backstop for countries whose domestic justice systems have been compromised by civil conflict.