AFRICA - The African Union and the path of democracy in Africa

Monday, 6 February 2012

Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - For the first time in its history, the African Union (AU) has failed to elect its President. At the 18th Summit of the Heads of State held in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia and seat of the body, neither of the two candidates had the necessary majority to be elected to the presidency. The two challengers were the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the outgoing AU President Jean Ping from Gabon. The election will be repeated at the next summit, scheduled in Malawi in June. In the meantime, the African Union will still be lead by Ping, whose mandate was extended for another six months.
According to several observers, the failure to elect a new President of the AU reflects the split between the French-speaking part of the continent (which supports Ping) and the Anglophone part (which was behind the candidacy of Dlamini-Zuma). The failure of the election of the most important summits of the African continental body reflects the difficulties faced by several elections in individual African Countries (from Cameroon, to the Ivory Coast, from Guinea to the Democratic Republic of Congo), among allegations of vote rigging, fraud and various disputes. This is certainly not an exciting picture, but one needs to remember that until the early 90s Africa was the continent of Presidents for life and one-party in power for 30 years. Democracy, despite a thousand difficulties, continues to advance. This is why we need to strengthen the institutions of civil society (from political parties to trade unions, movements for human rights) for democracy to move on. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 06/02/2012)