A Look Back: AU Commission chairpersons through the years

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A Look Back: AU Commission chairpersons through the years
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KAMPALA | President William Ruto, his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni and ODM leader Raila Odinga on Monday held talks at Museveni's farm in Kisozi

A statement by Ruto disclosed that the trio discussed, among others, the candidature of the ODM leader for African Union Commission chairmanship.

“Had the pleasure of meeting President Yoweri Museveni at his Kisozi country home in Uganda. We discussed critical issues that affect our two countries such as energy and petroleum,” Ruto said.

“Also discussed was the declared candidacy of Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for the Africa Union Commission chairmanship.”

Raila on February 15 declared his interest in the AUC chairmanship seat saying he was ready for the role.

“I am inclined to accept the challenge and I am ready and I offer myself to be of service,” Raila said after holding talks with  Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo at his Karen home

As the African Union (AU) prepares for the selection of its next Commission chairperson, a position often confused with the annual rotational chairmanship, it's essential to reflect on the individuals who have held this pivotal role since its inception in 2002.

The AU Commission chairperson serves as the chief executive officer of the AU Secretariat, elected every four years with the possibility of renewal.

The selection process requires either consensus or a two-thirds majority vote by member states, with candidates expected to complete their term without interruption, rendering countries with impending elections ineligible.

Since 2002, the AU has seen five individuals occupy the position of Commission chairperson, each leaving their mark on the continent's governance landscape:

• Moussa Faki Mahamat (2017-2024)

 Currently serving his second term, Mahamat has been instrumental in advancing AU's agenda on peace, security, and development during             his tenure. Previously he was Prime Minister of Chad from 24 June 2003 to 4 February 2005 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from April 2008 to January 2017.


• Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (2012–2017)

South Africa's former Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs, Zuma prioritized gender equality and women's empowerment during her term, advocating for the AU's Agenda 2063. Dlamini-Zuma, sometimes referred to by her initials NDZ, is a South African politician, medical doctor and former anti-apartheid activist.


• Jean Ping (2008–2012)

Hailing from Gabon, Ping focused on strengthening AU's institutional capacity and enhancing its role in conflict resolution and peacekeeping efforts across the continent. Born to a Chinese father and Gabonese mother, he is the first individual of Chinese descent to lead the executive branch of the African Union.


• Alpha Oumar Konaré (2003–2008)

A former President of Mali, Konaré played a key role in shaping AU's policies on democracy, governance, and human rights, emphasizing the importance of African solutions to African challenges. Konaré, a professor, historian and archaeologist, served as President of Mali for two five-year terms from 1992 to 2002.


• Amara Essy (Acting, 2002–2003)

Essy served as the interim Commission chairperson during the AU Commission's inaugural period, laying the groundwork for subsequent administrations. Amara Essy is a distinguished diplomat from Côte d’Ivoire who served his country as Foreign Minister from 1990 to 2000. He was also the Secretary General of then the Organisation of African Unity in 2001.

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