Business, Finance & Economics

African Union summit: Leaders fail to elect new chairman


African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Jean Ping (R) is congratulated on Jan. 31, 2012 in Addis Ababa following an extension of his mandate. Intense campaigns had preceded the vote and dominated the summit during which leaders gathered to discuss broadening trade within Africa and tackling conflict hot spots.


Tony Karumba

BOSTON — The 18th African Union summit ended Monday but in the end, it did not accomplish much unity.

Despite two days of discussion and three rounds of voting, the 40 heads of state and government representatives in attendance failed to choose a new chairman for the AU Commission, according to Al Jazeera.

Neither the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon who has served as AU chairman since 2008, nor his challenger Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa’s home minister and ex-wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, secured enough votes to win, reported the New York Times

More from GlobalPost: African Union's new headquarters opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The NYT article explains:

South Africa’s government had hoped that Ms. Dlamini-Zuma would help give the African Union a more effective international voice. But other major African nations, like Nigeria and Kenya, had reservations about giving so much power to South Africa, and smaller nations fretted that their interests would be neglected.

These tensions surrounding the battle for the AU's top leadership position show that unity is still a distant goal.

Neither Dlamini-Zuma nor Ping succeeded in securing a two-thirds majority required to win. A new election is scheduled for the next summit in June, but under African Union rules, neither Dlamini-Zuma nor Ping will be eligible to run for election then, according to the NYT

More from GlobalPost: African Union: UN Secretary General calls for respect for gay rights on the continent

Ping has been given a six-month extension, but he is a leader without a mandate. In a time during which Africa can use a unified voice, the AU remains in a leadership limbo, the Christian Science Monitor reported. 

This year's AU summit, held in its new $200 million Chinese-built headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was dominated by talks regarding increasing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, bloody war and famine in Somalia, and lack of trade between member states.

More from GlobalPost: African Union looks East

Here's a video on AU's extended mandate:

AU Extends Mandate of Top Official
World News Videos by NewsLook