African Union sets August 6 deadline for Commission posts applicants

The African Union has opened the floor for aspirants of the upcoming race for the chairperson and deputy positions of the continental body’s Commission to file their papers, or drop out in favour of rivals.

Aspirants are to submit their CVs to their respective countries, statements of vision and how they intend to address emerging challenges on the continent. It is the first step for aspirants to show intent to serve as leaders of the African Union Secretariat.

But it will not be the most difficult. Four aspirants have already announced publicly they will seek to contest. They include Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Somalia’s former Foreign Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam, and former Seychellois Vice President Vincent Meriton. Their countries had already backed them.

Read: Raila blowing hot and cold as he seeks AU top job

Under the current African Union rules on regulations, the seat for the African Union Commission chairperson will only be contested by countries in the eastern region while the deputy will be contested by the northern African region.

Depending on whether a male or female candidate wins the chairperson seat, the deputy will then come from the opposite gender.

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Read: Djibouti entry in AUC top seat race impedes Kenya bid

According to an election notice publicised last week, the AU said candidates will file applications through their member states. But the final candidates on the ballot will be determined after a lengthy procedure that will also see them vetted by a panel of experts before the polls in February 2025.

All the eight positions of the Commission — chairperson, deputy and six commissioners — are up for grabs. But each region will be given slots based on what leaders agreed on as a fair “principle of inter-regional rotation.”

It means the six commissioners will fall to the remaining regions of south, central and western.

“Each region determines its own procedure for nominating candidates for the portfolios for which it is eligible,” the notice says. The region then hands in its list to the panel of experts by August 6.

“Only names of candidates submitted by the region will be considered in the pre-selection process undertaken by the Panel of Eminent Africans. Further, only member states that are not under AU sanctions are allowed to submit candidates.”

It means countries currently suspended for committing coups, including Sudan, Gabon, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea are ineligible to compete for any slots.

Although qualifications for each of the slots had already been created under the rules of the African Union, the Panel of Eminent Persons says it has developed job profiles and competency requirements for the leadership posts.

“This includes generic leadership skills and competencies as well as expert and thematic skills for each portfolio. The assessment process for all candidates is based on the skills and competencies identified for each senior leadership position,” said a dispatch that said qualified candidates must be “visionary.”

There are four members of the Panel, although the final list should have five once the northern region nominates its representative. They include Burundian academic Prof Paul Ngarambe representing the Central Region, Ethiopia’s former Permanent Representative to the African Union Konjit SineGiorgis for the Eastern Region, and South African diplomat Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko for the Southern region. She also serves as co-chair on the UN Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals. The other expert is Patrick Hayford, a retired Ghanaian diplomat for the Western region.

As is the norm, the chairperson and deputy are elected by the Assembly of Heads of State while the six commissioners are elected by the Executive Council, which is the body of foreign ministers. Both organs vote in secret ballot. Members of the Commission serve for four years and can be reelected once.

Since 2017, the African Union also requires that candidates, besides applying formally and being vetted by the panel, must also debate live on television in an Africa Leadership Debate known as MjadalaAfrika. The AU says this allows candidates to outline their vision of “how they will lead the transformation of Africa through the implementation of the AU Mandate and Africa’s Agenda 2063.”

“The debate allows African citizens and other stakeholders to put forward questions to the candidates on issues they want addressed on how to propel the continent’s growth and ensure Africa achieves its goals for integrated and sustainable development and becoming a major player in the Global Arena.”

The African Union election process is guided by principles that ensure there is equitable regional representation, gender parity, attracting and retaining Africa’s top talent, accountable and effective leadership and management, and transparent and merit-based selection.

Source:  The East African

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