African heads of state wrap up the African Union summit in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, on Monday. Key items on the agenda included the conflict in South Sudan and the election of the new AU commission chairperson. But that election was suspended after none of the candidates won the necessary two-thirds majority.
It was widely predicted that none of the three candidates for the post of AU commission chairperson would win the necessary two-thirds of votes in the election Monday.
Speaking to media, an AU commissioner, Martial De Paul Ikounga, confirmed this outcome.
He said the vote went ahead, 51 countries took part, 28 of those countries abstained, and 23 expressed a preference, but 23 is not two-thirds. So the rules of the African Union were respected, he said.
It is reported the Botswana foreign minister Pelonomi Venson Moitoi topped the poll in the first round with 16 votes, while Equatorial Guinea foreign minister Agapito Mba Mokuy came second with 12, and Uganda’s former vice president Specioza Wandira Kazibwe picked up 11 votes and was eliminated in the first round.
Not the first time
There is a precedent for this situation, commissioner Ikounga told media.
It is not the first time this has happened, he said. In January 2012 Jean Ping was asked to stay on as commission chairperson until June when the current chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was elected.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, attends the Valletta Summit on Migration in Valletta, Malta, Nov. 12, 2015.
There are reports that Dlamini-Zuma will be asked to stay on, amid speculation that she may decline and her deputy Erastus Mwencha might stand in as interim chairperson.
A legal counsel to the AU said the procedure for appointing an interim chair person is contained in article 42 of the general assembly's rules and procedures.
Morocco's request to rejoin
Other outcomes of this 27th summit of the AU, which ends Monday, will include a vote by the general assembly on whether to accept Morocco’s request to rejoin the Union.
Morocco quit the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, in 1984 to protest its admission of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, also known as Western Sahara, as a member. Morocco still lays claim to Western Sahara.
The summit has also taken several steps to reinforce the African Union, including agreeing to a continent-wide tax to pay for the organization, and launching an AU passport. There may be a late announcement Monday on deployment of AU peacekeepers in South Sudan.