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A peek into the upcoming African Union elections

Leave a comment / By: manifel / 05 February, 2021 21:20:23PM
A peek into the upcoming African Union elections

The guard is changing at the African Union this weekend when it holds its two-day virtual summit and DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi replaces South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa as the organisation’s rotating chairperson.

Besides the AU Chair, during the 34th AU Summit, there will also be elections at the African Union Commission (AUC), the AU's secretariat which undertakes the day to day activities of the Union, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

As a result of Covid-19 precautions, the election is expected to take place virtually. So far, sources say, member states have not expressed concerns over the viability of a virtual secret ballot. 

The Heads of State and Government will elect the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the AUC. The Executive Council - ministers of foreign affairs - will elect the six Commissioners. 

Recent institutional reforms cut the number of Commissioners from eight to six, with the merger of four departments into two. Political affairs was merged with peace and security, while the department of economic affairs was combined with infrastructure and energy.

There are now six Commissions: Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment; Economic Development, Trade Industry and Mining; Education Science, Technology and Innovation; Infrastructure and Energy; Health Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development; and Political Affairs, Peace and Security.

Faki unopposed but needs majority to win

Standing unopposed, for a second term as chairperson of the AU Commission is Chad's former foreign affairs minister Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The AUC Chairperson is the Chief Executive Officer, legal representative of the AU and the Commission’s Chief Accounting Officer. The Chairperson is elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once.

The Chairperson’s functions include: overall responsibility for the Commission’s administration and finances; promoting and popularising the AU’s objectives and enhancing its performance; consulting and coordinating with key stakeholders; as well as appointing and managing Commission staff.

The incumbent chairperson, Faki, if successful, will be the first chair to get a second, and final, term but he must garner a two-thirds majority to win a second term.

Six candidates for Deputy Chairperson

Six candidates including Rwanda's Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa who is also hoping to take over from Ghana's Amb. Quartey Thomas Kwesi, as Deputy Chairperson. Nsanzabaganwa is currently the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR).

The other five are Djibouti's Hasna Barkat Daoud, Gambia's Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang, Ghana's Marta Ama Akyaa Pobee, Somalia's Awale Ali Kullane and Uganda's Pamela K. Mbabazi.

Elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once, the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC assists the Chairperson in the execution of his or her functions to ensure the smooth running of the Commission and is in charge of administration and finance.

The Deputy Chairperson is elected by secret ballot and also needs a two-thirds majority of Member States eligible to vote.

The Deputy must not be from the same region as the Chairperson of the Commission.

Contest for the Commissions

Finally, the Ministers will have some work electing the six commissioners. Nothing can be certain until all votes have been cast and counted but, by and large, South Africa's Molapo Qhobela is tipped to get the Education Commission.

Nigeria's Bankole Adegboyega is tipped for the new - after merger - Political Affairs and Peace and Security Commission.

Sierra Leone's David Luke is a front runner for the Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining Commission, where Zambia's Albert Muchanga is also contesting. The Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining Commission is a major element for the continent following the start of trading under

the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January.

Nigeria, Burkina Faso and South Africa fronted one candidate, each, for the commission on Political Affairs, Peace and Security.

Angola, Gambia, Uganda and Morocco have each fronted a candidate for the Commission for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment.

Sierra Leone, Zambia, Uganda, and Mauritius also fronted candidates for the Commission on Economic Development, Trade Industry and Mining.

South Africa, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Uganda will vie for the commission on Education Science, Technology and Innovation.

Zimbabwe, Kenya and Egypt each have a candidate for the commission on Infrastructure and Energy while Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Mauritania eye the commission on Health Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development.

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