Jean Ping fighting to keep top AU job

2012-07-12 09:09
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (File, Sapa)

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (File, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - Gabonese career diplomat Jean Ping is fighting tooth and nail to keep his job as African Union Commission chair since the challenge of a rival candidate from the continent's powerhouse South Africa.

Ping, 69, and at the helm of the AU since 2008, could normally have taken his re-election for granted - in view of a tacit AU rule whereby any outgoing chair who wants a second term automatically gets it.

But South Africa's campaign to make home affairs and former foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the first woman head of the pan-African body has shaken Ping's comfortable position.

Normally unfailingly courteous, Ping earlier this week lashed out at what he said was a campaign of "malicious lies and innuendoes" on the part of South Africa "to tarnish my hard-earned reputation and destabilise" his campaign.

"I refuse to lower the moral threshold for this campaign and hope that all involved in the election will also conduct a clean and decent campaign that brings honour to Africa," he said in the unusually direct statement.

After neither candidate clenched the two-thirds majority needed at a summit in January, they will face off again in Addis Ababa on 15 July, with a decision expected late the following day.

Prior to landing the top AU job in 2008, Ping held a series of ministerial portfolios including information, foreign affairs and mines in his native Gabon, becoming deputy prime minister in 2007.

An extrovert, Ping is equally at ease in English and French and is always immaculately turned out.

Drawn and impassive


At the January summit, late night meetings and the strain of the deadlocked vote seemed to have taken their toll: he appeared looking drawn and impassive.

Before he embarked on his ministerial career, Ping, who has a doctorate in economics from France's Sorbonne University, was an international civil servant for the Paris-based Unesco.

Because of his longstanding ties with Paris, he is sometimes seen as a French proxy, a claim he has made strenuous efforts to deny.

Ping's father was a Chinese forester who married a Gabonese, and his Asian ancestry has earned him the nickname "Mao".

Ping married the eldest daughter of the late President Omar Bongo, with whom he has two children. He later married an Ivorian, and is now a father of eight.

Appreciations of Ping's performance in the AU job are mixed. He has been criticised for failing to hammer out a cohesive and effective resolution to the recent crises on the continent from the 54-member body.

"He hasn't been able to reconcile these very divergent perspectives," said Phil Clark, politics professor at London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

Deep divisions

"As a result of that we have ended up with the AU sitting on its hands while countries like Cote d'Ivoire [Ivory Coast] and Libya implode in front of our eyes," he added.

However, others say it would have been impossible for the AU to come up with a unified position on those two crises, given the deep divisions between African nations.

Ping himself has dismissed the criticism of his "supposed inability" with such crises, instead accusing South Africa of widening divisions over Libya and Ivory Coast.

During his tenure, Ping also formed important links with Turkey, India and most notably China, which financed the $200m construction of the new AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

"While he's very weak at building cohesion within Africa itself, he does seem to have been much more effective than previous African leaders at building these key alliances externally," Clark added.

Read more on:    au  |  nkosazana dlamini-zuma  |  jean ping  |  gabon  |  sa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.