Southern African foreign ministers discuss AU deadlock

Southern African foreign ministers met on Saturday to discuss the recent deadlocked polls for a new African Union (AU) head and to chart the regional bloc’s strategy for the next vote.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting was called at short notice after last month’s AU vote failed to secure victory for its candidate, former South African foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

“Our agenda is going to be very short, we don’t have many things to discuss but we have some very important things to debate,” Angola’s Foreign Minister Rebelo Pinto Chikoti said in his opening remarks.

After consultation, the ministers will “make good proposals for heads of state who will be eventually taking some of our proposals further on to other meetings at African Union level”, Chikoti added.

Tight race
An evaluation of the January polls and the strategy for the next vote were listed on the agenda of the meeting, also attended by the foreign ministers from South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique.

Last month’s tightly contested AU race saw Gabon’s Jean Ping, who has headed the African Union Commission since 2008, unable to obtain the required two-thirds majority in a tight race with Dlamini-Zuma.

Ping’s mandate was extended until the AU’s next summit in June in Malawi.

The vote was preceded by intense campaigns, with Ping counting on support from French-speaking West and Central Africa countries, and Pretoria lobbying across Africa for Dlamini-Zuma who was backed by the 15-member SADC. –Sapa-AFP

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