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Experts Call for Advancing AU’s Role as Leadership Elections Begin

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African Union

As the African Union Commission (AUC) embarks on the election process of its senior leadership, experts have underscored the crucial need to advance the transformative role of the AU in addressing Africa’s existing and emerging development and security challenges.

Last week, the AU announced that the election process of the AUC’s senior leadership for 2025-2028 has kicked off with the call for interested candidates to submit, to their member states, their interest along with vision statements on how they intend to advance the continental body’s role in Africa’s overall development. It said all the eight senior leadership positions of the AUC are open for candidates’ submissions guided by the regional allocation of the portfolios.

The positions include the AUC chairperson, the deputy chairperson and the six commissioner posts, with the elections slated to take place in February 2025 during the AU Summit. In a recent interview with Xinhua, Costantinos Bt. Constantinos, who has served as an economic advisor to the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, suggested addressing the root causes of conflict and insecurity perils, augmenting Africa’s human capital, facilitating member states’ efforts in addressing humanitarian catastrophes unleashed by natural and man-made calamities, as well as advancing the realization of flagship continental development aspirations as potential focus areas for the incoming AUC leadership.

“The incoming leadership will be tested to alleviate the root causes of incessant conflicts and military coups destabilizing the continent, specifically in the Sahel, Central Africa, and the Horn of Africa,” the expert told Xinhua.

He said while some African nations are registering “great” economic growth, further efforts are needed to meaningfully uplift the continent’s human development index. He further said that the AU can play a significant contribution in realizing this continental aspiration. “Conflicts, coup d’etats, poverty and corruption, which are often driven by lack of good governance, are the omnipotent challenges in Africa. The AU, as a leading continental institution, needs to further bolster its role in addressing these obstacles,” said Costantinos, also a professor of public policy at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He said the incoming AUC leadership is also expected to boost the engagement of highly qualified and independent academia and the private sector that can drive the vision of a peaceful and developing Africa. “Such a role of the AUC as a political hub and think-tank will unleash, renovate, cultivate and develop Africa’s rich natural resources through the energies of the largely unemployed young population Africa has, and to project the continent as a foreign direct investment destination in the 21st century,” he said.

Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug, chairperson of the AUC executive council, also underscored the need to strengthen the AU institutions to help the commission fully discharge its responsibilities and accelerate Africa’s integration. “The process of selecting the leadership of the AUC in 2025 should be defined by prioritizing considerations of cohesion, equity, rationality, and a spirit of consensus,” said Merzoug, also Mauritania’s minister of foreign affairs. According to the AU, the February 2025 election process will be based on the principle of inter-regional rotation of the commission’s senior leadership positions.

The Eastern Africa region will submit candidates for the role of chairperson, while the Northern Africa region will submit candidates for the role of deputy chairperson. The remaining three regions (central, southern and western Africa regions) will submit at least two candidates for the six portfolios of commissioners. With each region determining its own procedure for nominating candidates for the portfolios, the AU announced that the deadline for the submission of the regional nominations to the AUC is Aug. 6, 2024.

In February this year, a Panel of Eminent Africans, composed of five personalities, one per region, was appointed to oversee the pre-selection of candidatures for the eight positions.

Ahead of the elections conducted in a secret ballot, candidates vying for the AUC chairperson position will participate in a televised debate broadcasted live to African citizens. According to the AU, the televised debate allows African citizens and other stakeholders to put forward questions to the candidates on how to propel the continent’s growth and ensure Africa achieves its goals for integrated and sustainable development and becomes a major player in the global arena.

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