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Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat is new African Union chief

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | AFP | 

Chad’s foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahamat was named Monday as the new AU Commission chairperson, beating four others to succeed South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, diplomats told AFP.

Several delegates leaving the election hall confirmed the win, while grinning Chadian delegates hugged each other in celebration.

Former Burundian president Pierre Buyoya confirmed Faki’s victory, telling AFP it came after a final round battle with Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed.

Moussa Faki Mahamat

The 56-year-old former prime minister has been at the forefront of the fight against Islamists in Nigeria, Mali and the Sahel and has promised “development and security” will be top of his agenda as chief of the continental bloc.

He said he dreams of an Africa where the “sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories” and pledged to streamline the bureaucratic AU during his four-year term in office.

Member states elected him after seven rounds of voting, according to a statement from Kenya congratulating him on his victory.

Other losing candidates were from Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and Senegal.

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A less bureaucratic AU 

Faki won in a final battle against his Kenyan counterpart Amina Mohamed after seven rounds of voting, the Kenyan government said in a statement, praising a “valiant race” by their candidate.

Faki takes on the role as his country’s President Idriss Deby Itno hands over the rotating presidency of the AU to Guinea’s Alpha Conde.

He said he dreams of an Africa where the “sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories” and pledged to streamline the bureaucratic AU during his four-year term in office.

AU reforms 

Faki takes over from South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who is credited with advancing women’s issues and moulding the ambitious Agenda 2063, but is seen to have dropped the ball on peace and security while focussing on personal political ambitions back home.

The choice of a new leader is crucial for the future of a bloc which is undergoing deep introspection on how to reform to become more relevant and better respond to crises on the continent.

Tasked with leading the reforms, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame delivered a “biting” report to heads of state on Sunday, according to a statement from the Kenyan government.

He criticised “chronic failure to see through African Union decisions (which) had resulted in a crisis of implementation and a perception that the AU was not relevant to Africans”.

Kagame also slammed “over-dependence on (donor) funding” which accounts from 70 percent of the AU budget, according to the Institute for Security Studies.

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