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18th AU summit elections at the African Union Commission
27 January 2012

 

Picture: Outgoing Chair Jean Ping greets his rival for the post of Chair of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during the opening of the ministerial meeting of the 18th AU Summit in Addis Ababa. Picture taken by Jaqueline Prinsloo,

One of the most talked about issues on the agenda of the 18th African Union Summit that started on 23 January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is the election of new commissioners of the AU – an event that is creating unprecedented interest.

The stakes are high, especially for the election of the chair of the AU commission. This is a key position that determines the effectiveness of the AU and its ability to mediate in crises on the continent and follow through on its goals to establish peace, democracy and economic prosperity.

The candidates for this important post are incumbent former Gabonese minister of foreign affairs Jean Ping and South African Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Dlamini-Zuma, former wife of President Jacob Zuma is no stranger to the AU, having worked tirelessly as South African former foreign minister during the tenure of former President Thabo Mbeki, who stepped down in 2008.

However, analysts predict Ping might triumph during the secret vote of Heads of State and Government during their meeting on Sunday 29 January.

Though Dlamini-Zuma might have good personal credentials, the fact that she represents South Africa, the largest African economy, counts against her.

Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, programme head at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) office in Addis Ababa, says “the nomination by South Africa surprised many African states, thus making them uneasy to change the status quo.“

Apart from perceived foreign policy fumblings of South Africa under President Jacob Zuma, the South African nomination also contradicts the unwritten agreement of excluding regional powers from vying for the post of chairperson of the AU Commission, says Mr Maru.

“Without doubt, this election will heighten the expectations for the elected officials and set a higher standard for next elections at the AU Commission.”

He says that Mr Ping not only enjoys the benefits of incumbency, but remains the strongest candidate as he is understood to enjoy the full support of the Western, Northern and Eastern regions of Africa.

“If Ms Zuma is elected as the chairperson, this will be as surprising as the North African revolutions,” he says.   

ISS director Jakkie Cilliers is more cautious, noting that neither candidate appears to have sufficient support for the required two-thirds majority in a first round and the unpredictability of voting during a second, and third round when countries who have pledged allegiance may change their voting.  With two high quality candidates Cilliers is more concerned about the extent to which the election-issue is crowding out other, more important subjects, and the damage that it could do to two eminently qualified candidates both of whom have been in great service to the continent.

Technically the rules of procedure for elections of the Chairperson allows for seven rounds of elections at which point the candidate with the highest number of votes proceeds alone to a final round.  If, during this round, he/she does not obtain the required two-thirds majority, the elections are suspended and the deputy chairperson takes over the Chairpersonship of the Commission on an interim basis until new elections are held.

How the nomination process works:

Apart from the position of AU Commission chair, the position of deputy and eight commissioners is also up for election.

The process of election is as follows:

 

The first step in the election process of the Chairpersons and the Commissioners is for the member states of the AU to forward the names of their candidates in response to calls by the Legal Counsel of the Commission. The Counsel then prepares a list of nominations from the member states.

Based on this list, pre-selection processes at regional level are conducted to identify candidates for each region. The elections are based on the AU regional geographic distribution formula. Each of the five regions of Africa is entitled to propose two candidates for the ten portfolios of the Commission. At least one of the candidates for each region should be a female candidate. This makes a total of twenty candidates of which at least ten must be female.

The regions, from which the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson are nominated, can only propose one candidate each for commissioner positions. These selected regional candidates form the continental pool of candidates, which the Legal Counsel prepares with a team of consultants. The team of consultants is composed of two independent experts from each region who verify whether the candidates fulfill the required criteria and other elements such as the regional geographic distribution.

A central pre-selection process begins with the consideration of the pool of candidates and report of the team of consultants by a ministerial meeting composed of two ministers from each region. The ministerial meeting in turn submits the list of candidates for election by the Executive Council and the Assembly. Currently, a ministerial meeting is considering the report of the team of consultants.

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So far Central Africa has the biggest number of candidates for the post in the Commission. Cameroon, for example, has no less than 8 nominations

 

The percentage of female candidates compared to male has increased since the AU`s last ministerial panel meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in 2011.

FINAL LIST OF CANDIDATES FOR THE

POSTS OF COMMISSIONERS

POST

PEACE AND SECURITY

REGION

GENDER

1

Ramtane Lamamra

North

Male

2

Pius Mokgware

South

Male

3

Kongit Sinegiorgis

East

Female

POST

POLITICAL AFFAIRS

REGION

GENDER

1

Nagoum Yamassoum

Central

Male

2

Clotilde Niragira

Central

Female

3

Aà¯sha L. Abdullahi

West

Female

4

Faida Maramuke Mitifu

Central

Female

5

Mustaq Moorad

South

Male

6

Hesphina Rukato

South

Female

7

Genevieve Delali Tsegah

West

Female

POST

INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENERGY

REGION

GENDER

1

Elham Mahmoud

North

Female

2

Ufei Chinje Melo

Central

Female

3

Vishnu Dutt Purbhoo

East

Male

POST

SOCIAL AFFAIRS

REGION

GENDER

1

Charles Bikoi Binam

Central

Male

2

Marie-Pierre Lloyd

East

Female

3

Ngarmbatina Soukate Odjimbeye

Central

Female

4

Rudo M. Chitiga

South

Female

5

Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko

West

Male

POST

HUMAN RESOURCES, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

REGION

GENDER

1

Jean-Pierre O. Ezin

West

Male

POST

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

REGION

GENDER

1

Teodoro Ondo Mba

Central

Male

2

Fatima Haram Acyl

Central

Female

POST

RURAL ECONOMY AND AGRICULTURE

REGION

GENDER

1

Rhoda P. Tumusiime

East

Female

2

Ogomoditse B. Maruapula

South

Male

POST

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS

REGION

GENDER

1

N`guettia Rene Kouassi

West

Male

2

Okah-Atenga Xaverie

Central

Female