AUC chief hails African initiatives on Somalia, other regional issues
Laaska News Jan 30, 2012
ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) — The outgoing president of the African Union (AU) Commission Jean Ping, a Gabonese national who is seeking re-election in a contest with South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Sunday gave the assessment of his first term in office, outlining the successes and the challenges.
He was speaking during the opening ceremony of AU’s 18th ordinary summit that was opened in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, in the presence of over 20 African presidents.
He said during his term that began in 2008, the AU “has managed to handle various crises that continue to confront the African continent.”
As illustrations, he mentioned the initiatives that have been taken to stabilize Somalia, the reinforcement of relations between Sudan and South Sudan and the fight against the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Ping said for the first time in the last two decades, there has been a real attempt to end the Somali crisis, especially with the involvement of the Burundian and Ugandan soldiers under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as well as the Kenyan and Ethiopian soldiers.
He, however, admitted that these forces were operating under very difficult conditions.
In addition, Ping said the AU has made efforts to restore peace in Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Comores, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.
In order to consolidate the gains made, he said, “the Commission has intensified its efforts in the area of reconstruction and post-conflict development.”
He hailed the AU’s role in normalization of relations between the newly independent state of South Sudan and Sudan and the normalization of the situation in Cote d’Ivoire and Darfur (a vast province in western Sudan) after the adoption of the Doha peace accord.
Ping, who once served as Gabon’s foreign minister, was first elected to the top post of the AUC in 2008 after the exit of ex- Malian president Alpha Oumar Konare.
He is contesting for the position against South Africa’s Interior Minister Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, the ex-wife of president Jacob Zuma.
The campaigns have become heated in the last few months after South Africa intensified its diplomatic flurry by sending envoys to various African capitals.
During the 18th AU summit in Addis Ababa, President Zuma and his Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane have multiplied contacts with other African leaders.
The election of the AUC chief is expected to take place on Monday between 9:00 a.m. local time and 1:00 p.m., according to a well placed source. It will be conducted through secret ballot and the winner must obtain at least two thirds of the votes.