Chairperson of the African Union
The Chairperson of the African Union is the ceremonial head of the African Union elected by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a one-year term. It rotates among the continent’s five regions.
A candidate must be supported by at least two-thirds of the member states or by consensus. The chairperson is expected to complete the term without interruption; hence eligible countries with impending elections may be ineligible.
In 2002, South African President Thabo Mbeki served as the inaugural chairman of the union. The post rotates annually amongst the five geographic regions of Africa; and over the years it has assumed the following order: East, North, Southern, Central and West Africa.
In January 2007, the assembly elected Ghanaian President John Kufuor over Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir due to the ongoing Conflict in Darfur.[unreliable source?] The government of Chad threatened to withdraw its membership if Sudan assumed the chair. Some had suggested Tanzania as a compromise candidate from the East African region. By consensus, Ghana was elected instead as it was celebrating its 50th independence anniversary that year.
In January 2010, Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi unsuccessfully tried to extend his tenure by an additional year, saying more time was needed in order to implement his vision for a United States of Africa – of which he was a strong proponent. Libya was at the time one of the largest financial supporters of the AU. The election of Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in January 2011 was criticized by human rights activists as it undermined the AU’s commitment to democracy.
Congolese Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe have both led the AU and its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity during the terms 1986–88 and 2006–07, and 1997–98 and 2015–16 respectively.
List of Chairpersons
The Chairperson is assisted by a bureau of four vice chairpersons including a rapporteur.
|Cyril Ramaphosa||South Africa||Southern Africa||First Vice Chairperson|
|Félix Tshisekedi||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Central Africa||Second Vice Chairperson|
|Mahamadou Issoufou||Niger||West Africa||Third Vice Chairperson|
|Paul Kagame||Rwanda||East Africa||Fourth Vice Chairperson (Rapporteur)|
- “African Union Handbook” (PDF). African Union. 2014. p. 15.
- “President Kufuor elected Chairman of AU”. Accra: Ghana News Agency. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “African Union Chooses Kufuor Over Bashir for Chairman”. Yahoo! Voices. 29 January 2007. Archived from the original on 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “Sudan loses AU chair over Darfur”. Mail and Guardian. South Africa. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “Gaddafi fails in bid to remain African Union chair”. Addis Ababa: Reuters. 31 January 2010. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “African Union row over Muammar Gaddafi’s role”. BBC News. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- “Equatorial Guinea President Named African Union Head; Rights Groups Object”. Bloomberg News. 30 January 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- “President voted AU deputy chair”. The Herald. Zimbabwe. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
- “Mugabe Scores A Feat, Set To Head AU at 91”. radiovop.com. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
- “The 32ND African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit Kicks Off”. African Union. 10 February 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Babarinde, Olufemi (April 2007). “The EU as a Model for the African Union: the Limits of Imitation” (PDF). miami.edu.
- “High hopes for AU Maputo Assembly”. ANC Today. 4–10 July 2003. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- “Obasanjo Elected AU Chairman”. Addis Ababa: Vanguard. 7 July 2004. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “CONGO: Profile of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, new AU head”. Brazzaville: IRIN. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- Appel, Michael (2 February 2008). “Kikwete takes over AU Chair”. Pambazuka News. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “Gaddafi vows to push Africa unity”. BBC News. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “Malawi president takes over as AU president”. AFP. 31 January 2010. Archived from the original on 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- Hennig, Rainer Chr. (1 February 2011). “New AU leader Obiang calls criticism un-African”. Afrol News. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- “President Thomas Yayi Boni elected as Chairperson of the African Union for 2012” (PDF) (Press release). Addis Ababa: Directorate of Information and Communication, African Union Commission. 29 January 2012.
- Stainburn, Samantha (28 January 2013). “Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s PM, is new African Union Assembly chairman”. GlobalPost. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- “President Abdel Aziz of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania elected African Union Chairperson”. Addis Ababa: African Union. 30 January 2014.
- “Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, 90, becomes African Union chairman”. Reuters. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- African Union [@_AfricanUnion] (30 January 2016). “Prez Idriss Itno Déby of #Chad takes over as #AU Chairperson” (Tweet). Retrieved 30 January 2016 – via Twitter.
- “President Alpha Conde of Guinea Has Been Elected New Chairperson of the African Union (AU)”. African Union. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
- “President Paul Kagame, Elected as New Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2018”. African Union. 28 January 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2018.