Election of African Union Commission chair postponed

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The election of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) has been postponed to July at the next AU summit, a South African official attending the summit said today.

After three rounds of fierce competition, none of the two candidates – incumbent AUC Chairperson Jean Ping and South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma – managed to clinch the required two-thirds of votes. The AUC then decided to suspend the election, an AUC source told the Xinhua news agency.

Ping’s first four-year term comes to an end this year. The competition for the AUC chairperson has been fierce in the election held during the 18th AU summit. An AUC source told Xinhua that Jean Ping stayed ahead of Dlamini Zuma in the three rounds of vote. In the first round, “it was 28 votes against 25, which does not give him an absolute majority,” said the official. In the second round, Jean Ping won 27 votes while the South African candidate got 26.

In the third round, they obtained 29 and 24 votes respectively. According to the AU’s rule, the chairperson must get a majority of two thirds of votes from members with the right to vote, that is, member states that are not under sanction. If not, a following round is imposed automatically.

The closed-door voting was held in the conference hall of the newly inaugurated AU Conference Centre.

Dlamini Zuma, who filled the Foreign Affairs portfolio for several years, was nominated by the 15-member SADC in August to campaign for the chairmanship. She would have been the first South African, and first woman, to occupy the post but would have had to vacate her Cabinet post to work from Addis Ababa for four years.

She faces stiff competition from Ping, who has the backing of French-speaking Central and West African nations for a second and final term.



The AU Commission’s deputy chair, Kenya’s Erastus Mwencha, will take over from Ping until the next AU summit, to be held in Malawi, where African leaders will vote again.