The African Union (AU) has elected Chad’s Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat as the new chairperson of the Commission. Mahamat replaces South Africa’s Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, as head of the 54-member bloc Commisiom. Dlamini Zuma was not seeking a second term after finishing her four-year-tenure.

Mahamat beat his main challenger Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed in the final round to replace Dlamini Zuma, the first female AU head.

Mahamat, a 56-year-old father-of-five is not new to the work of the AU having previously served as the body’s chair of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council.

Moussa Faki was born in the town of Biltine in the eastern Chad. He attended University in Brazaville in the Republic of the Congo, where he studied law. He went into exile when Hissein Habre took power in 1982, and joined the Democratic Revolutionary Council to oust him.

He brings strong leadership, and experience and will spearhead the AU vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena”.

The new chairperson faces a huge task to achieve the bold objectives of Agenda 2063 and steer the continental organisation towards a path of inclusive social and economic growth, political stability, democracy, peace and prosperity.

The AU has previously been criticized for its perceived lethargic approach to conflict resolution and there is hope that the new chairperson will bring proactive and decisive leadership to guide the bloc.

Kenya's Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed and the chair of the tenth World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference addresses journalists during an opening press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, 15 December 2015. Photo: ANP/EPA/Daniel Irungu

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed and the chair of the tenth World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference addresses journalists during an opening press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, 15 December 2015. Photo: ANP/EPA/Daniel Irungu

Other candidates who contested

The election was fiercely contested with intense lobbying over the past few months. Other candidates who contested in the election include Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Mohamed, the only nominee from East African region. She was widely seen as a front-runner for the job and had the backing of numerous Anglophone countries.

Abdoulaye Bathily, a Senegalese diplomat was seen by many political analysts as a strong candidate. He served as a United Nations mediator in the Central African Republic and Burundi.

Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, a veteran politician from Botswana and Agapito Mba Mokuy, who served as a senior adviser to Equatorial Guinea’s president also contested the election.