The Failure of AU Commission Election : Lessons and Perspectives

The “failure” of the election of the African Union Commission Leadership is actually a positive development on my personal view for at least the two following reasons:

  1. Africa has much better to offer other than the 3 candidates on the list of the chairpersonship. I do not necessary mean they are not qualified at all but we do have better in stock.
  2. Two of the candidates were pushed ahead by two of the most brutal dictators in our continent who, by their governing styles are in a total denial of the African Union “shared values”. Electing their candidates to drive the AUC and its progressive programs and values including the Agenda 2063 will be really embarrassing for our Union. I know candidates do not represent their individual country and we must look at qualifications rather than political belonging/backing. However, in real life the influence of the country of origin of the Chair cannot be denied. I have seen it. Also, everybody knows that the presidents always allocated state money and resources to their candidates for campaign. It is not naive!!! On the other hand, it is about the image of our continent trying hard to embrace democracy and respect of human rights in order to move quickly towards sustainable development. We cannot let people sent by those who are in open denial of our values to manage the affairs of the Union. Dictators have been chosen as Chair of the yearly presidency of the African Union (and I hate it strongly!) but we all know that the role is not executive and has few practical impacts. It is however unacceptable to have an “agent” of a dictator to represent and lead the AU Commission, the engine of our Union for 4 years or more.

Solidarity in the Regional Blocs

The outcomes of the election have confirmed the strong solidarity within some of the regional blocs: ECOWAS and SADC.

ECOWAS made it clear and official that they want the elections to the postponed even though they have a candidate for the Deputy Chairperson seat.  I have no doubt that they have unanimously observed that position during the vote by abstaining.

SADC apparently has shown regional solidarity in supporting their candidates: the Botswana Minister of Foreign Affairs who came first in the vote. I am not sure what happened in the central and North Africa. Those 2 regions have been relatively weak in terms of solidarity. So, no big surprise even though some of them may have obviously joined the abstention group.

What is next?

The Assembly has decided to extend the mandate of Madame Dlamini-Zuma until the next elections and to reopen the candidacy for current and new applicants. Those are political decisions as the current rules of procedures are not clear about reopening the list but Rule 42 suggests that the Deputy Chairperson takes over in case of election failure . In 2012, new candidates were not allowed to apply after the deadlock Zuma/Ping.

There is now an opportunity to review the rules/procedures of the elections before January 2017. This is absolutely urgent, otherwise we may have another deadlock if falling regions want to revenge… I would be in favor of a simple majority instead of 2/3 if 2 candidates remain on the list without gathering the required 2/3 votes.

See my recent presentation on the AUC election including the list of candidates here:

I am also in favor of a non-renewable longer term for the AUC Leadership as well as other necessary structural reforms I hope to write about those later.

Now the road is paved for Jakaya Kikwete, Donald Kaberuka, Thao Mkeki or Carlos Lopes to come in…. Who knows?


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