The African Union has suspended the election of the commission chairperson after the candidates failed to garner the required voted. The votes were tallied at the 27th summit held in Kigali, Rwanda on Monday morning. The candidates were former Ugandan Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, Botswana Foreign Minister Pelomoni Venson Moitoi, and Equatorial Guinea Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy. Kazibwe got 10 votes, Moitoi got 16 votes and Mokuy garnered 12. None managed to secure the required two-thirds of the vote. Ugandan Presidential Press Secretary Linda Nabusayi confirmed that the elections had been suspended.
ECOWAS and AU stand-off
Prior to the election, there had been reports of a postponement until “high calibre” applicants were found. The claim was that there were no candidates suitable for the highest post which was held by South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was said to be the major proponent of the postponed vote. The Southern Africa Development Community with its 15 members had also not endorsed one particular candidate. Speaking to the African Review, a source said, “Most delegates believe that all the candidates who applied for the AUC chair do not make the requisite profile, despite the fact that submission for applications closed earlier in March.” There were attempts to enter new candidates in the fray but these were unsuccessful.
Late Sunday, AU Legal counsel, Vincent O Nmehielle spoke to the Voice of America about the postponement rumors. He said, “Stop speculating. There is no ECOWAS concern that has made an election to be postponed. Elections are going forward tomorrow. No more names are entering the list, while the elections are going on tomorrow. If somehow we are not able to obtain the necessary majority then the rules will kick in and you will be advised as to the outcome.” He added that ECOWAS did not determine whether AU commission elections are held.
The winner for the chairperson position must obtain two thirds of member states’ votes and if that is not achieved, a second round is held between the two highest placed candidates. The election is only suspended if no one obtains a two-thirds of the vote in the second round. Reports coming from Kigali show that none of the candidates has managed to acquire the required two-thirds of the vote. Ugandan State Minister for International Affairs, Oryem-Okello confirmed by short text message to the Daily Monitor that, “All candidates eliminated, elections suspended.” Uganda’s Kazibwe exited the poll with her low 11 votes against two-thirds of 53. Mail and Guardian Africa says, “It is believed that fifteen heads of states abstained from voting when the first round of votes were cast, and 20 during the second round, which an insider said was a ‘no vote of confidence’ in all the candidates.”
The suitability of Mokuy has been questioned dude to the repressive nature of Equatorial Guinea while Moitoi’s Botswana seems to hold conviction contrary to those held by most countries while Kazibwe was previously convicted of abusing state funds. In response to concerns over the nature of governance in Equatotial Guinea, Nmehielle said, “Can you define democracy for me? When you say candidates from undemocratic countries I do not know what you mean. They are members of the African Union.”
Meanwhile, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s term as chair of the AUC has been extended by six months to give potential candidates time to canvass for votes.
Her spokesperson, Jacob Enoh Eben tweeted, “Black smoke billows’ from the 27th AU Summit as no winner emerges.” Dlamini-Zuma did not seek re-election after her term as chair of the African Union Commission. The AUC has its work cut out for it in the next couple of months as tempers flare in South Sudan. One of its principal tasks will be to diffuse the tensions and prevent the country’s descend into a full-scale civil war.
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