The African Union on Tuesday extended thee mandate of its top official Jean Ping after an election, in which he was challenged by South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, deadlocked.
ADDIS ABABA – The African Union on Tuesday extended thee mandate of its top official Jean Ping after an election, in which he was challenged by South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, deadlocked.
"We have decided to prolong the mandate of the current commission until thee next summit in Lilongwe Malawi" in June, bloc chairman, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, said at the end of a two-day summit in Addis Ababa.
Intense campaigns had preceded the vote for commission chief which dominated the AU summit in the Ethiopia capital, where leaders gathered to discuss broadening trade within Africa and tackling conflict hot spots.
Gabon's Ping, 69, who has headed the African Union Commission since 2008, sought a new term but was unable to obtain the required two-thirds majority in a tight race with Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of South African President Jacob Zuma. "We went for an election and none of the two candidates emerged as a winner," Zambian President Michael Sata told reporters after the vote.
Pretoria said that Dlamini-Zuma will vie again for the post.
"Nothing stops us from fielding the same candidate because she has shown orr proven to be a formidable candidate that the incumbent could not defeat," South Africa's International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane Mashabane said in a statement.
Analysts say the vote for the AU agenda-setting position has exposed political fault lines between English – and French-speaking Africa, as well as between different geographic regions.
"The result has shown up divides in the continent," Jakkie Cilliers, executive director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, told AFP at the summit. "South Africa worked hard to reduce Ping's support base."
But Boni Yayi insisted: "The continent is united and there is hope that it will continue to be united."
Ping led Dlamini-Zuma in the first three rounds with 28 votes to 25, 27 to 26 and 29 to 24, AU sources said.
Dlamini-Zuma was then forced under AU rules to pull out, leaving Ping to face a fourth round on his own, but he still failed to muster the necessary votes.
Ahead of the vote, sources said Ping had been confident of re-election, counting on support from French-speaking West and Central Africa countries.
However, he has appeared to have fallen foul of criticism that he performedd poorly in recent crises on the continent, after a year that saw a post-election conflict in Ivory Coast as well as the Arab Spring revolutions. - AFP