NAIROBI, Kenya — Recent elections in Africa have tended to end in farce and confusion (and sometimes bloodshed). Look at Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia.
Not much difference in Addis Ababa today where the African Union — dubbed a "dictators' club" in its pre-2002 guise of the Organization of African Unity, but little changed since — failed to elect a new chairperson.
First the vote got deadlocked with delegates unable to choose between the incumbent Jean Ping from Gabon and his challenger Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa, then no one was sure what to do next.
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They held the vote three times but neither candidate received the two-thirds majority needed. Instead of finding a solution the vote is to be postponed for six months and re-run at the next summit due in Malawi. In the meantime there are conflicting reports as to whether Ping will be allowed to keep the job or if Erastus Mwencha, the AU commission chief will be caretaker.
And so it looks as if the AU is going to be a lame duck for the next six months with its key executive office in limbo.
Bad news for the AU's standing and bad news for the ongoing crises and conflicts in Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere that the AU should be taking a lead in resolving.