Chairperson of the African Union
|Chairperson of the
|Term length||One year|
|Inaugural holder||Thabo Mbeki|
|Formation||9 July 2002|
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. 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.
In January 2010, Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi unsuccessfully tried to extend his tenure by an additional year, 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.
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. 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.
|#||Portrait||Chairperson||Took Office||Left Office||Country||Region|
|1||Thabo Mbeki||9 July 2002||10 July 2003||South Africa||Southern Africa|
|2||Joaquim Chissano||10 July 2003||6 July 2004||Mozambique||Southern Africa|
|3||Olusegun Obasanjo||6 July 2004||24 January 2006||Nigeria||West Africa|
|4||Denis Sassou Nguesso||24 January 2006||24 January 2007||Republic of Congo||Central Africa|
|5||John Kufuor||30 January 2007||31 January 2008||Ghana||West Africa|
|6||Jakaya Kikwete||31 January 2008||2 February 2009||Tanzania||East Africa|
|7||Muammar Gaddafi||2 February 2009||31 January 2010||Libya||North Africa|
|8||Bingu wa Mutharika||31 January 2010||31 January 2011||Malawi||Southern Africa|
|9||Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo||31 January 2011||29 January 2012||Equatorial Guinea||Central Africa|
|10||Yayi Boni||29 January 2012||27 January 2013||Benin||West Africa|
|11||Hailemariam Desalegn||27 January 2013||30 January 2014||Ethiopia||East Africa|
|12||Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz||30 January 2014||Incumbent||Mauritania||North Africa|
- "African Union Chooses Kufuor Over Bashir for Chairman". Yahoo! Voices. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 31-01-14.
- "Sudan loses AU chair over Darfur". Mail and Guardian. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 31-01-14.
- "Gaddafi fails in bid to remain African Union chair". Addis Ababa: Reuters. 31 January 2010. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "African Union row over Muammar Gaddafi's role". BBC News. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Equatorial Guinea President Named African Union Head; Rights Groups Object". Bloomberg News. 30 January 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "President voted AU deputy chair". The Herald (Zimbabwe). 31 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
- "Mugabe Scores A Feat, Set To Head AU at 91". radiovop.com. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
- Babarinde, Olufemi (April 2007). "The EU as a Model for the African Union: the Limits of Imitation" (PDF). miami.edu. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "High hopes for AU Maputo Assembly". ANC Today. 4-10 July 2003. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "Obasanjo Elected AU Chairman". Addis Ababa: Vanguard (Nigeria). 7 July 2004. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "CONGO: Profile of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, new AU head". Brazzaville: IRIN. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "President Kufuor elected Chairman of AU". Accra: Ghana News Agency. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- Appel, Michael (2 February 2008). "Kikwete takes over AU Chair". Pambazuka News. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "Gaddafi vows to push Africa unity". BBC News. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "Malawi president takes over as AU president". AFP. 31 January 2010. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- Hennig, Rainer Chr. (1 February 2011). "New AU leader Obiang calls criticism un-African". Afrol News. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "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.
- Stainburn, Samantha (28 January 2013). "Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s PM, is new African Union Assembly chairman". GlobalPost. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Mauritania leader new African Union chairman". Addis Ababa: AFP. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.