Rwanda beats Uganda to AU Commission chair

The Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, was on Saturday elected vice chairperson of the African Union Commission, edging out Uganda’s Prof Pamela Mbabazi Kasabiiti (chairperson of National Planning Authority) and Ms Hasna Barkat Daoud of Djibouti.

Dr Nsanzabaganwa got 42 of the 55 votes cast while Prof Mbabazi received 10 votes. Ms Daoud collected two votes. Dr Nsanzabaganwa becomes the first female vice chairperson of the AU Commission. Four other contenders had been eliminated from the race at the earlier stage.

A statement from the AU secretariat said during the Heads of State Assembly, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat from Chad was re-elected chairperson of the African Union Commission for another four-year term.

Mr Faki was first elected the chairperson of the commission in 2017. The chairperson of the AU Commission is elected by the assembly for a four-year term, which is renewable once. The election of the AU Commission chairperson and deputy chairperson is conducted by secret ballot. The AU statement said the elections demonstrate progress on the implementation of the AU institutional reforms adopted in 201. The reforms had directed that from 2021,  the leadership of the commission would be composed of eight members; the chairperson, the deputy chairperson and six commissioners, down from the previous 10. “The reforms also included decisions to enhance the transparency and meritocracy of the leadership selection process... The selection principles were based on equitable regional representation, gender parity, predictable rotation, attracting and retaining Africa’s top talent, accountable, and effective leadership and management, and transparent and merit-based selection,” the statement adds.

At the same event, AU commissioners were also elected. The executive council elects the commissioners, who are then appointed by the assembly. Among those elected as commissioners are Ambassador Bankole Adeoye (Nigeria) to head political affairs, peace and security docket; Ms Josefa Sacko (Angola), to head agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment; Amb Albert Muchanga (Zambia) to head economic development, trade, industry and mining, and Dr Amani Abou-Zeid (Egypt) to the infrastructure and energy docket.

Elections for the posts of commissioner for health, humanitarian affairs and social development and commissioner for education, science, technology and innovation were deferred to the next meeting of the executive council. The current commissioners, Ms Amira Elfadil Mohammed (Sudan) and Prof Sarah Agbor (Cameroon), will continue to serve in their current positions until the elections are conducted.

DR Congo takes over AU chair

During the same function, Mr Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was elected the new AU chairperson for 2021. He takes over from Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa. 

While President Tshisekedi was physically present in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the handover ceremony, Mr Ramaphosa attended virtually. In his acceptance speech, Mr Tshisekedi said it is a privilege for his country to chair the African Union.

“We are celebrating 60 years of the disappearance of a worthy son of the Congo and Africa, Mr Patrice Émery Lumumba, who strongly believed in the great destiny of Africa. He did not hesitate to organise, in August 1960 in Kinshasa, then Leopoldville, the last Congress in the history of the great movement of Pan-Africanism. On June 30, 1960, shortly before his tragic death, he declared that Africa would write its own history...,” he said.


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