PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday left for the 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he will hand over the continental body’s chairmanship to Chad President Idris Deby.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko is the Acting President.
Mugabe is expected to officially open the summit tomorrow amid reports that Zimbabwean officials were lobbying diplomats and other African Heads of State and Government to give him a special role to play as one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.
Mugabe has been in power for the past 35 years and most of his colleagues and founders of the Organisation of African Union, now AU, have either passed on or retired from active politics.
Deby came to power in a 1990 coup after marching westwards from Sudan and ousting northern warlord Hissene Habre, whom he had helped bring to power. The Chadian leader’s time in office has been marked by repeated rebellions, dubious political reforms and rows with donors over the country’s new oil wealth.
Deby survived more rebel attacks this month and maintains that presidential elections on May 3 – in which he will be running after doctoring the national Constitution – will go ahead as planned. His opponents have warned that extending Deby’s reign will plunge the country and the region into chaos.
A career soldier in his mid-fifties, Deby has been a central figure in Chadian politics for two decades.