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African Union Elects First Woman President – She’s Also Jacob Zuma’s Ex-Wife



For the first time ever, the African Union has a woman president: South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will lead the continent-wide body, after defeating incumbent Jean Ping following four rounds of voting.

Senegalese website AfriScoop reports that Dlamini-Zuma, 53, who had been serving South African Minister of Home Affairs and is the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, was elected President of the African Union Commission late Sunday.

Newspapers across Africa on Monday cast the election as largely a competition between the English-speaking and French-speaking nations. There was some bitterness in francophone Gabon, the home country of the defeated Ping, who'd held the post since 2008.  

“The summit in Addis Ababa showed the French bloc was divided and indecisive," wrote Info Plus Gabon website: “The headquarters of the African Union were taken over by a large South African delegation, determined to win the seat of President of the African Union Commission.”

The vote, some observers noted, raised an ongoing rivalry between continental heavyweights South Africa and Nigeria, as well as worries of the smaller countries about the possible South African control over the 54-nation organization. But Dlamini-Zuma, a longtime anti-apartheid activist who has served as bothe Health and Foreign Minister under previous South African administrations assured that: "South Africa is not going to move to Addis to control the African Union."

For the South African website Business Day, Dlamini-Zuma’s election at the head of the African Union represents a ‘political coup’ for President Jacob Zuma.


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