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AU chooses Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as leader

Posted by Ethio Tribune on July 15, 2012

Current AU commission chairman Jean Ping of Gabon (l) and his opponent in elections to the post, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa (r) (combined file photo).The African Union has chosen South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its leader, making her the first woman to hold the post.

Ms Dlamini-Zuma beat incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon after a closely fought contest for the chairmanship of the organisation.

In January, neither got the required two-thirds majority, leaving Mr Ping in office for another six months.

The dispute has overshadowed other issues, especially security and trade.

Voting has been broadly split along linguistic lines, with English-speaking countries tending to support Ms Dlamini-Zuma and French-speaking countries lining up behind Mr Ping.

Ms Dlamini-Zuma is the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma and one of her country’s longest-serving government ministers.

Analysts said many feel her candidacy had broken an unwritten tradition that the chairmanship should not be occupied by one of Africa’s major nations.

Earlier this week, Mr Ping denied a South African media report speculating he was going to withdraw from the race.

His use of the AU’s website and letterhead for his statement prompted the southern African regional bloc Sadc to accuse him of misusing AU resources for his re-election bid.

Ms Dlamini-Zuma’s election came at a summit in Addis Ababa, the organisation’s home city.

As in January, the official theme of the summit was boosting intra-African trade.

It is also due to focus on the continuing instability in Mali, mounting violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and tension between Sudan and South Sudan.

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