• Friday, June 21, 2024
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AU shifts chairperson election to 2017 amid members boycott

african union

african union

Finding a replacement for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as chairperson for the African Union Commission hit a brick wall as the three candidates in the race failed to garner the required two-third majority at the summit that held in Kigali, the Rwanda capital, on Monday.

The development, according to AU spokespeople, means that the election has been suspended until January 2017, when another summit will take place. In the meantime, the incumbent Dlamini-Zuma, who chooses not to seek a second term, will stay on until January.

The three candidates vying for the position are Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi of Botswana, Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe of Uganda and Agapito Mba Mokuy from Equatorial Guinea.

Sources at the summit say about 15 heads of state abstained from voting when the first round of votes was casts and 20 during the second round. Experts say these are indications of a ‘Vote of no confidence.’

Prior to the election, Senegal had expressed concerns over the current list of candidates. Nigeria and some other members in the West African bloc shared similar sentiments during the Abuja summit in May 2016.

During the summit, President Muhammadu Buhari had highlighted “the need for the emergence of a good candidate for the chairmanship of the soon-to-be vacant AU Commission in view of the decision of Mrs. Zuma not to run for a second term.”

It was also at the May summit that Senegal announced the designation of Abdoulaye Bathily, currently special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Central Africa and ead of the United Nations Office in the region, as a candidate for the AU job. A request to postpone the election was then communicated to Dlamini-Zuma, a request that appeared to have gone unheeded, as the summit in Kigali went ahead to conduct an election.

The West African bloc, according to an expert, is aware and worried about the desire of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to influence the position for Southern Africa. This was evidenced by SADC’s support for Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. During the election in Kigali, sources close to the ballot said 23 out of 53 voted in favour of the Botswana. Second, there were questions about Kazibwe’s nomination as she was previously convicted of abusing state funds.

Further details of the elections revealed that the Uganda’s former Vice President Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe was eliminated at the first stage as she got the least amount of votes. For Agapito Mba Mokuy, despite a considerable campaign fund behind him, sources said he would have lost the election to the favourite Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

“The process of the elections of the chairperson and deputy chairperson and commissioners of the AU Commission started this morning (Monday) during the AU summit in Kigali. In the election of the chairperson, none of the candidates including HE Specioza Kazibwe Wandira, was able to garner the required 2/3 majority. The election of the chairperson was suspended until next AU summit in Addis Ababa in January 2017.

“The candidates who competed in this election are eligible to run, but the competition will also be opened to other candidates who might be interested and have necessary qualifications,” Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uganda, said.