AU vote for new commission chief ends in deadlock

The deputy AU commission chief from Kenya, will serve as the executive council`s chair until the fresh polls.

Addis Ababa: A vote by African leaders for
the head of their bloc`s influential executive ended in
deadlock on Monday between Gabon`s Jean Ping, seeking a new term,
and challenger Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa.

Intense campaigns had preceded the vote and dominated the
African Union summit in Addis Ababa, where leaders gathered to
discuss broadening trade within Africa as well as tackling
conflict hot spots.

"We went for an election and none of the two candidates
emerged as a winner," Zambian President Michael Sata said.

"The next elections will be held in June."
Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe also confirmed to
reporters that neither of the candidates won the vote.

The deputy AU commission chief, Erastus Mwencha from
Kenya, will serve as the executive council`s chair until the
fresh polls at the next summit.

AU sources said the election was tight, with Ping holding
a slender lead in three rounds of voting in which neither
candidate obtained the required two-thirds majority.

Dlamini-Zuma was then forced under AU rules to pull out,
leaving Ping to face a fourth round on his own, but he still
failed to muster the necessary votes in his support, sources

South African delegates broke into song and dance after
the stalemate vote conducted at the two-day summit in the new
ultra-modern AU headquarters built by the Chinese and unveiled
at the weekend.

In a pre-vote pledge, Dlamini-Zuma said that if elected
she would "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."

No woman has held the post to which Ping was elected in
Mwencha, AU Commission deputy chairman for the past four
years, is a Kenyan economist who has spent most of his long
career promoting the cause of regional integration and trade.

On Sunday, the 54-member African Union elected Benin`s
President Thomas Boni Yayi as their new chairman, a rotating
post held for one year.

On the sidelines of the summit, protracted disputes
between South Sudan and Sudan brought a warning from UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Sunday that they threatened
regional security.

Ban said both Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his
South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir lacked the "political will"
to tackle border and oil disputes since the South seceded last

"The situation in Sudan and South Sudan has reached a
critical point, it has become a major threat to peace and
security across the region," Ban told reporters.