Following a deadlock during Monday’s African Union elections, with a tie between former wife to South African president Jacob Zuma, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and current and outgoing chairperson, Jean Ping of Gabon, the caucus agreed to meet in Malawi in June for a decider.
Attended strictly by the heads of states and government and two representatives from each nation, the elections found went for three rounds showing a slender lead by Ping to lead the continent’s top most influential Commission in the 55-strong nation union. The elections were held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Dlamini-Zuma, 63, dished out campaign leaflets pledged she would not spare any effort in building on the work of the African women and men see the AU turn into a formidable force.
“…Striving for a united, free and truly independent better Africa,” she said. None of the two top contestants held a required three thirds majority of the vote taking place behind closed doors for the second and last day of the of the summit.
Neighbouring Zambian president, Michael Sata announced the move to Lilongwe, after the intense campaigning overshadowed other summit business in the two days of intra-Africa trade talks.
Ping, 69, said he was hopeful for re-election, banking his win from Anglo-Franco countries support.
Malawi is however in a race for time to finalise the construction of the International Conference Centre (ICC) and presidential villas in time for the June summit. Part of the building was opened and the Chinese, who are putting in the works, celebrated their New Year in it in January 2012.
Meanwhile, The African Union extended the mandate of its commission chief after failing to elect a new head on Monday, highlighting the weakness of a group criticised for slow decision-making during political turmoil on the continent last year.
The African Union said it had decided to extend Ping’s mandate for a further six months until the next summit in Malawi in June.
“The elections were suspended in line with the provisions of our statute so we took the decision to extend the term of office of the chairperson, the deputy and his commissioners,” AU chairman Benin President Boni Yayi told reporters.
Mtheto Lungu, AfricaNews reporter in Lilongwe, Malawi