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23.01.2021 Ethiopia

African Union facing unprecedented outrage ahead of leadership election in Ethiopia

By Ifezuoke Chikodili
African Union facing unprecedented outrage ahead of leadership election in Ethiopia
LISTEN JAN 23, 2021

The scheduled African Union Commission elections slated to hold on February 7 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is facing an unprecedented level of public outcry due to the fact that for the first time in its history the incumbent Chairman, Faki Moussa Mahamat of Chad, is running unopposed for a second four-year term.

Many observers have raised serious concerns about the manner in which the current chair, who is widely seen in Africa as a puppet of France, has managed to mobilize stiff opposition from potential candidates like the former African Union Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, who was sacked by Mahamat for “daring to expose France’s chicanery in siphoning billions of euros from Francophone countries in Africa”, according to the President of the Coalition of Supporters Unions of Africa, Sarfo Abebrese.

Abebrese’s organization, which partners with the African Union to use sports to build unity across the continent for peace and development, has waded into African Union Commission (AUC) politics ever since the sacking of Arikana in 2019 and has thrown its support behind her and AUC Deputy Chairman, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, in order to unseat Mahamat.

With barely a couple of weeks to go for the elections, it has emerged that Mahamat will be the only name on the ballot paper, but the COSUA President is not giving up.

“The rules are clear, that even if he runs unopposed, he is still required to secure the votes of no less than 37 of the 55 Heads of State who will be voting on the 7th,” Abebrese explained in a telephone interview with New Europe, adding, “We have launched the ‘#Catch19agenda’ to lobby our presidents with the aim of getting up to 19 of them to decline to vote so as to ensure that Faki falls short of the 37-vote requirement. This will trigger a six-month postponement of the polls and a re-opening of nominations for other interested candidates to come in,” said Abebrese.

Abebrese concluded by saying that his organization is motivated by the precedence set by the African Union in 2016 where three candidates were deemed insufficiently representative.

“Faki was the biggest beneficiary of a wise decision by Dr. (Nkosazana Dlamini) Zuma (of South Africa) who postponed the elections to allow him and one more candidate to join in for the re-run, which Faki won. Now, he is refusing to return the favor and follow in the democratic precedence set by his predecessor…he must be voted out,” Abebrese concluded.

In the weeks leading up to the February 7 elections, regional watchers and the independent media will need to keep a close eye on the controversies surrounding the African Union’s decision to proceed with an uncontested election, and its single candidate with a questionable history, or heed the public’s growing calls for a postponement.

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