AU Commission candidacy: Gabonese FM ahead

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Flag of Gabon

Gabonese Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean Ping, is leading the two other candidates for the post of the African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson, to replace incumbent Alpha Oumar Konare, whose term has since expired.

There are two other candidates left in the running, after the Burundian Minister of External Relations withdrew her candidacy and supported Ping.

The Gabonese official will face Abdulai Osman Conteh, a former Sierra Leone Vice-President now serving as chief judge in Belize, South America, and Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, Zambia’s Ambassador to the US.

For the moment, Ping seems to be in a better position than the two other candidates.

In addition to Central and West Africa, he enjoys the support of East African countries, which expressed their support for him following a heated debate here Tuesday, ahead of the heads of state and government summit beginning Thursday in the Ethiopian capital.

Similarly, North African countries, which are apparently still hesitating, seem to be moving towards backing the candidacy of the Gabonese Foreign minister.

A source close to a Magrebi delegation revealed that even Libya, which had wanted to propose Ali Triki as candidate, has finally pitched its tent with the Gabonese.

However, the big obstacle to the appointment of Ping lies in the fact that if the leaders finally decide to vote to elect the AU Commission chairperson during their conference this week, he must win two thirds of the votes of eligible members.

As the countries (8) under sanctions are not entitled to vote, according to calculations made by AU officials, he would have to secure 30 votes in order to win the election.

The debate on the election of the AU Commission Chairperson and the Commissioners, by the African Foreign Affairs Ministers under the aegis of the Executive Council, stretched far into the night on Tuesday.

The Ministers finally decided to send the issue to the Heads of state and government.

Before then, there was a division between those who argued for the postponement of the election and those who said at least the Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson should be elected now, while the election of the Commissioners should be postponed till July.

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