The African Union held its 32nd Summit on February 10, 2019. At the Summit, Member States elected President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt as the new AU chair.
El-sisi takes over from President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The new AU Chair addressed the Summit after the elections, setting his agenda for the African continent.
El-Sisi is the current president of Egypt–serving his second term after his re-election in 2018. El-Sisi is a graduate of the Egyptian Military Academy. After years in service, el-Sisi rose to the position of the director of military intelligence in 2010. Ultimately, he became Defense Minister and Commander in Chief when Mohamed Morsi was ousted.
In 2018, Forbes ranked el-Sisi at number 45 in the list of most powerful people in the world. The new African Union Chair has managed to restore Egypt to stability. As a result, this achievement saw his approval rating rise. Consequently, in the 2018 election, el-Sisi was re-elected with 97 percent of the vote.
El-Sisi’s Tasks as New AU Chair
Key on President el-Sisi’s agenda is the fight against terrorism on the continent. In his address at the Summit, the new African Union Chair stated that terrorism is one of the critical problems facing Africa. In addition, el-Sisi stated that the bloc will prioritize ‘preventive diplomacy’ and mediation in promoting peace in the continent.
El-Sisi’s new tasks differ from that of his predecessor. Whereas President Kagame focused on creating a free-trade zone that spans across the continent, eL-Sisi is putting his focus on fighting terrorism. However, there is a common agenda. Like his predecessor, el-Sisi will be required to align his approaches with the AU Agenda 2063.
The African Union Chair Position
The African Union Chair position is a ceremonial position that rotates within the five regions of the continent. As such, a succeeding Chair cannot come from the same region with current Chair.
In order for a candidate to win, he/she must garner the support of at least two-thirds of member states—or through consensus. President Thabo Mbeki was the inaugural Chair of the AU in 2002.
The African Union chair serves for one year. After that, member states elect a different Chair from a different region. The five regions of the AU include–Central, West, East, Southern, and North.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has been announced as AU Chair for the year 2020. This means the AU leadership will be shifting from the North to the Southern region.
South Africa will have national elections on 8 May, 2019. As such, Ramaphosa will become Chair of AU in 2020 if he wins the South Africa elections and remains president—The AU chair position is held by a sitting president.
The AU commission is the Secretariat of the African Union. A Chairman leads the Commission, assisted by a deputy Chair. Additional members are the commissioners.
The Chair of the Commission chairs all meetings of the Commission. The position of AU Chair, therefore, is different from that of AU Commission chair.
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