Chairperson of the African Union

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Chairperson of the
African Union
Emblem of the African Union.svg
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz - August 2011.jpg
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

since 30 January 2014
Appointer the Assembly
Term length One year
Inaugural holder Thabo Mbeki
Formation 9 July 2002

The Chairperson of the African Union is the ceremonial head of the African Union elected by the Assembly of Heads of State for one year. It rotates among the continent's five regions.


In 2002, South African President Thabo Mbeki served as the inaugural chairman of the union. The post rotates annually amongst the five geographic regions of Africa; and over the years it has assumed the following order: East, North, Southern, Central and West Africa. Congolese Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso was elected as the chair in January 2006; he is the only leader to have led both the AU and its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity during the term 1986–87.

In January 2007, the assembly elected Ghanaian President John Kufuor over Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir due to the ongoing Conflict in Darfur.[1] The government of Chad threatened to withdraw its membership if Sudan assumed the chair. Some had suggested Tanzania as a compromise candidate from the East African region. By consensus, Ghana was elected instead as it was celebrating its 50th independence anniversary that year.[2]

In January 2010, Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi unsuccessfully tried to extend his tenure by an additional year,[3] saying more time was needed in order to implement his vision for a United States of Africa - of which he was a strong proponent. Libya was at the time one of the largest financial supporters of the AU.[4]

The election of Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in January 2011 was criticized by human rights activists as it undermined the AU's commitment to democracy.[5] Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is most likely to be the next chair as he is at present the first vice-chairperson of the African Union Bureau.[6][7]


The incumbent is the ceremonial head of the AU and in this capacity, chairs the biannual summits and represents the continent in various international fora such as TICAD, FOCAC, G8 and G20 summits.


# Portrait Chairperson Took Office Left Office Country Region
1 Thabo Mbeki - World Economic Forum on Africa 2008.jpg Thabo Mbeki[8] 9 July 2002 10 July 2003  South Africa Southern Africa
2 Joaquim Chissano (cropped).jpg Joaquim Chissano[9] 10 July 2003 6 July 2004  Mozambique Southern Africa
3 Olusegun Obasanjo (Brasilia 6 September 2005).jpg Olusegun Obasanjo[10] 6 July 2004 24 January 2006  Nigeria West Africa
4 Sassou-Nguesso.jpg Denis Sassou Nguesso[11] 24 January 2006 24 January 2007  Republic of Congo Central Africa
5 John Agyekum Kufuor - World Economic Forum on Africa 2008-1.jpg John Kufuor[12] 30 January 2007 31 January 2008  Ghana West Africa
6 Jakaya Kikwete speaking at London Summit on Family Planning 2012 crop.jpg Jakaya Kikwete[13] 31 January 2008 2 February 2009  Tanzania East Africa
7 Muammar al-Gaddafi-30112006.jpg Muammar Gaddafi[14] 2 February 2009 31 January 2010  Libya North Africa
8 Bingu Wa Mutharika - World Economic Forum on Africa 2008.jpg Bingu wa Mutharika[15] 31 January 2010 31 January 2011  Malawi Southern Africa
9 Teodoro Obiang detail, 1650FRP051.jpg Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo[16] 31 January 2011 29 January 2012  Equatorial Guinea Central Africa
10 Yayi Boni.jpg Yayi Boni[17] 29 January 2012 27 January 2013  Benin West Africa
11 Hailemariam Desalegn - Closing Plenary- Africa's Next Chapter - World Economic Forum on Africa 2011.jpg Hailemariam Desalegn[18] 27 January 2013 30 January 2014  Ethiopia East Africa
12 Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz August 2014 (cropped).jpg Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz[19] 30 January 2014 Incumbent  Mauritania North Africa


  1. ^ "African Union Chooses Kufuor Over Bashir for Chairman". Yahoo! Voices. 29 January 2007. Archived from the original on 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  2. ^ "Sudan loses AU chair over Darfur". Mail and Guardian. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Gaddafi fails in bid to remain African Union chair". Addis Ababa: Reuters. 31 January 2010. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  4. ^ "African Union row over Muammar Gaddafi's role". BBC News. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Equatorial Guinea President Named African Union Head; Rights Groups Object". Bloomberg News. 30 January 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "President voted AU deputy chair". The Herald (Zimbabwe). 31 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "Mugabe Scores A Feat, Set To Head AU at 91". 31 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Babarinde, Olufemi (April 2007). "The EU as a Model for the African Union: the Limits of Imitation" (PDF). Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "High hopes for AU Maputo Assembly". ANC Today. 4–10 July 2003. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Obasanjo Elected AU Chairman". Addis Ababa: Vanguard (Nigeria). 7 July 2004. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  11. ^ "CONGO: Profile of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, new AU head". Brazzaville: IRIN. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  12. ^ "President Kufuor elected Chairman of AU". Accra: Ghana News Agency. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  13. ^ Appel, Michael (2 February 2008). "Kikwete takes over AU Chair". Pambazuka News. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  14. ^ "Gaddafi vows to push Africa unity". BBC News. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  15. ^ "Malawi president takes over as AU president". AFP. 31 January 2010. Archived from the original on 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  16. ^ Hennig, Rainer Chr. (1 February 2011). "New AU leader Obiang calls criticism un-African". Afrol News. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  17. ^ "President Thomas Yayi Boni elected as Chairperson of the African Union for 2012" (PDF) (Press release). Addis Ababa: Directorate of Information and Communication, African Union Commission. 29 January 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  18. ^ Stainburn, Samantha (28 January 2013). "Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s PM, is new African Union Assembly chairman". GlobalPost. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "President Abdel Aziz of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania elected African Union Chairperson". Addis Ababa: African Union. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014. 

External links[edit]