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South Africa's Dlamini-Zuma Elected African Union Commission Head
337 days ago
(RTTNews) - South Africa's current home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was elected as the head of the African Union (AU) Commission on Sunday, thereby becoming the first ever woman to hold the post.
Her election to the post, during an AU summit in the Ethiopian capital city of Ethiopia, ended a long and bitter leadership battle that had threatened to weaken as well as divide the 54-member grouping of African states.
In a closely fought contest, Dlamini-Zuma, the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, overcame the stiff challenge posed by incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon in a third round of voting held Sunday.
She received 37 votes in the final confidence vote, there by securing the minimum required 60% majority required at the 54-member body to be elected. While Dlamini-Zuma had the support of the English-speaking African states, Ping was backed by French-speaking countries.
The contest between Dlamini-Zuma and Ping for heading the AU Commission had been deadlocked since January, when both candidates failed to secure the 60% votes required to assume the post.
After the summit of AU heads of state held in Addis Ababa at the weekend also failed to break the stalemate, AU's rotating chairperson, Benin President Boni Yayi, warned that the continued failure to settle the leadership issue would divide the intercontinental body and weaken its international credibility.
In addition to being South Africa's current home affairs minister, Dlamini-Zuma has previously served as the country's health and foreign affairs minister. The 63-year-old is one of her country's longest-serving ministers.
As the new head of the AU Commission, the most important of the immediate challenges facing Dlamini-Zuma is securing backing from the United Nations for a planned military intervention in Mali, where separatist Tuareg rebels, backed by Islamist militants, have seized control of a large area in the country's north.
Other issues facing the new AU Commission head include the recent military coup in Guinea-Bissau, tensions between Sudan and South Sudan over border and oil-related issues and the ongoing conflicts between rebels and government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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