AU chair Jean Ping wants second term

2011-10-14 22:37

Addis Ababa - The chairpersonof the African Union Commission Jean Ping will seek a second term in office, Gabon's ambassador to Ethiopia and the AU said on Friday.

"Yes, it's official," William Anguile told AFP, adding the incumbent Ping, who is Gabonese, has the full support of his government.

Ping faces competition from South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The AU will vote in January for the chairmanship held since 2008 by Ping, who served as foreign minister and is a former president of the United Nations General Assembly.

Anguile said he believed Ping would be voted in for a second term at the helm of the pan-African bloc's executive body.

Ping has been criticised for refusing to take a tough stance on continental affairs, including a post-election crisis in Ivory Coast and the war in Libya.

But diplomatic sources say he is actively supported by Francophone West Africa and the majority of East African countries, which opposed South Africa's stance on Libya.

"I think [Ping] will be re-elected because he has many positive points," a source who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP.

South Africa, a member of the AU's ad-hoc committee on Libya, favoured a UN-imposed no-fly zone over Libya early in the crisis, arguing the resolution would protect civilians.

But it later said the UN took advantage of the mandate to back a Nato-led military intervention, which it vocally opposed, and initially refused to recognise the National Transitional Council as the new rulers.

Dlamini-Zuma is backed by the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), but as an Anglophone African would likely struggle to win the support of French-speaking nations, the diplomatic source said.

"She is not fluent [in French] at all, which is not a positive point for her," the source said.

All 54 AU member states are required to cast a ballot in the secret vote that takes place every four years. Candidates, who win the seat by majority vote, are limited to two consecutive terms, according to AU regulation.