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AU poll ends in deadlock

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African Union (AU) leaders failed in a vote yesterday to choose a new chairman for the bloc’s influential
executive commission, Zambian President Michael Sata told reporters.

“We went for an election and none of the two candidates emerged as a winner,” Sata said, referring to South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who sought to unseat outgoing Jean Ping from Gabon.

Incumbent Ping had earlier enjoyed a slight lead over Dlamini-Zuma — who was previously married to South African President Jacob Zuma — as the vote proceeded behind closed doors on the second and final day of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital.

The continent’s powerhouse South Africa had lobbied hard to see Dlamini-Zuma unseat the Gabonese career diplomat who has chaired the African Union Commission — the bloc’s executive branch — since 2008.

Ping was narrowly ahead of Dlamini-Zuma, a former South African Foreign Affairs minister, in the first three rounds of voting, AU sources said, but was short of the two-thirds majority needed for an outright win.

“If elected . . . I pledge to spare no effort in building on the work of those African women and men who want to see an African Union that is a formidable force striving for a united, free, truly independent, better Africa,” 63-year-old Dlamini-Zuma said in a pamphlet distributed at the summit.

South Africa said at the weekend it was optimistic Dlamini-Zuma, who was married to Zuma until 1998, could defeat Ping.

But sources close to Ping (69) had said throughout that he was confident of re-election, counting on support from French-speaking West and Central African countries.

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