Chad’s foreign minister secures top post at African Union

African Union leaders choose Chad’s candidate, Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, to chair the 54-nation body.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (JANUARY 30, 2017) (REUTERS) – African Union leaders on Monday (January 30) chose Chad’s candidate to chair the 54-nation body at a summit where the divisive issues of Africa’s relationship to the International Criminal Court and Morocco’s readmission to the AU were on the agenda.

In the last round of voting, Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat beat Kenya’s top diplomat Amina Mohamed to secure the post as head of the commission of the AU, which is headquartered in the Ethiopian capital.

A Chadian official who was not named said that his nation’s candidate had secured 39 votes in the final round. Faki, born in 1960, has served as foreign minister since 2008. His previous posts also included a stint as prime minister.

“I have been trained in this school. I believe in Africa. I will use all my knowledge and all my strength for the service of this continent,” the newly elected AU commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said.

In a race usually resolved in behind-the-scenes talks before a summit vote, three of the AU’s four major regions vied for the post – the south, the east and the largely Francophone west – with some regions pushing more than one candidate.

Outgoing commissioner, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stayed on the post for an extra six months after leaders failed to agree a candidate in July. She is now tipped as a contender to succeed her ex-husband, Jacob Zuma, as South Africa’s president.

Further divisions are likely to be exposed when heads of state decide whether to approve the re-admission of Morocco. The North African kingdom quit the AU’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, three decades ago amid a dispute over the body’s recognition of Western Sahara, most of which has been controlled by Morocco since 1976.