South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been elected first African Head of African Union Commission.
Dlamini-Zuma 63, was elected on Sunday in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa beating incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon.
Dlamini-Zuma had to undergo three voting rounds before Ping, 69, was eliminated. A final confidence vote of 37 in favour, gave her the 60 per cent majority she needed to be elected.
Her election puts an end to a bruising leadership battle that had threatened to divide and weaken the organization.
“We made it!” a grinning Zimbabwean delegate shouted, reflecting the strong support Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy had received from fellow members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Ping, who had served in the AU post since 2008, was largely supported by French-speaking African states.
Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma faces immediate challenges as the AU tries to gain U.N. Security Council-backing for a military intervention in northern Mali, where Al Qaeda-linked jihadists seized control after a destabilizing coup in the southern capital Bamako.
Dlamini -Zuma was South Africa’s Minister of Health from 1994 to 1999, under President Nelson Mandela, then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 17 June 1999 to 10 May 2009, under Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Molanthe. She was moved to the position of Minister of Home Affairs in the Cabinet of President Jacob Zuma, her ex-husband, on 10 May 2009.