The African Union (AU) is poised to select a new chairperson today during the 37th ordinary summit held in Addis Ababa. Currently, the position is held by Comorian President Azali Assoumani, who assumed office in 2023. The role, while ceremonial, holds significant influence and rotates annually among the five regions of the AU.

President Assoumani, representing the Eastern Africa region, is set to hand over the chairmanship to a candidate from North Africa. Angola has expressed its candidacy for the post in 2025. However, the selection process is not without contention, as both Morocco and Algeria, major contributors to the AU, vie for the prestigious seat.

The chairperson must be chosen through consensus or a two-thirds majority vote by member states. Furthermore, countries with upcoming elections are ineligible to contest, ensuring stability and continuity in leadership. The elected chairperson is expected to serve a term without interruption, presiding over biannual summit meetings and representing the continent in various international forums.

Beyond its ceremonial duties, the chairperson plays a crucial role in crisis resolution and serves as an elder statesman for the continent. In 2008, AU Chairman Jakaya Kikwete played a pivotal role in mediating Kenya’s post-election crisis, facilitating the formation of a Government of National Unity. Additionally, Kikwete supported the intervention in Anjouan by deploying an AU Force to assist the Comoros federal government in removing renegade leader Mohamed Bacar.

To enhance coordination and prevent friction between the chairperson and the AU Commission chairperson, suggestions have been made to establish liaison offices. These measures aim to ensure effective governance and cooperation within the AU, promoting unity and progress across the continent.

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