News Update :

Leadership battle to dominate African Union Summit

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

 A AFRICA: Intense lobbying is underway ahead of the African Union biannual summit starting Sunday, with the race for the post of AU commission chief dominating talks after a deadlocked vote in January.

Once again shaking tradition by challenging the sitting chairman, South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma takes on incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon, after neither won the two-thirds needed at the last summit, leaving Ping in the post.

They will face off again on July 15 in a bid for the head of the bloc's executive, which Ping has held since 2008.

Security issues on the continent will be a major focus at the summit, but analysts said the leadership race will once again take centre stage, with bad blood from the last contest already straining relations between some leaders. “Who will be the next chairperson of the AU will be the main interest issue around this particular summit,” said Alex Vines, Africa director at the London-based think tank Chatham House. The July 15-16 conference was moved from Malawi after the country's new president, Joyce Banda, refused to host Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges.

Banda said her country's relations with international donors would suffer if Bashir was hosted on Malawian soil, and has since announced she will not attend the meeting in the Ethiopian capital.

Deputy head of the AU Commission, Kenya's Erastus Mwencha, said the crisis in Mali and bitter rows between Sudan and South Sudan -- who clashed in March and April in disputed border regions -- will dominate the peace and security agenda. AFP
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