African Union Holds First Virtual Summit Today

The African Union (AU) will from midday today host its first virtual summit in Addis Ababa at which DRC’s Felix Antoine Tshisekedi will take over as chairperson, and elections of the AU Commission (AUC) will be held.

While the AUC Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad is set to return unopposed at this 34th assembly of African leaders, the rest of the posts on the AUC will be filled, with Uganda’s Prof. Pamela Kasabiiti Mbabazi one of eight who have been nominated to contest as Vice Chairperson.

Today’s official opening of the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union will be virtual and via video conferencing. It will be addressed by South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union (AU), AUC chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and Incoming Chairperson of the AU Felix Antoine Tshiseked of DRC.

The Assembly is expected to deliberate and consider a report on the Institutional Reform of the AU, a report on the progress on the African Union response on

COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and finally elections and appointments of the Leadership of the AU Commission. The theme of the 34th assembly is “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.


Who is Prof. Pamela Kasabiiti Mbabazi?

Prof. Mbabazi,51, is the Chairperson of the National Planning Authority of Uganda. She is the only candidate from Uganda contesting in the February 6 polls that will be run using a new format that will be sensitive to gender and equal regional representation.

“I intend to lead policies that harness Africa’s youthful population. Africa is gifted with a youthful population that should be optimized to create the desired demographic dividends for the continent. This is one of my key motivations for my candidature,” she said recently.

Mbabazi will contest against three men and four women. The women are Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa from Rwanda who is the deputy governor of the national bank of Rwanda, Hasna Barkat Daoud, a Djiboutian lawyer and former government minister; Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, a Ghanian diplomat; and Fatoumata C.M. JallowTambajang, the former vice president of the Gambia.

This is the first AUC election since the AU’s reform process started in 2017 under the guidance of Rwanda President Paul Kagame’s executive.

The new structure of the AUC is to be composed of eight members. They are the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and six Commissioners.

The former eight Commissioners have been reduced to six, with the merger of the roles of Commissioner for Peace and Security with Political Affairs, and of Commissioner for Economic Development with Trade and Industry. The new rules stipulate that the six commissioner posts will be equally distributed by gender across the three regions that are not represented at Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson level.

Chairman Faki Moussa is running unopposed for a second four-year term. He however will still face the vote, as the rules state that he still has to secure the votes of no less than 37 of the 55 Heads of State who will be voting.

The last Ugandan to attempt to contest at the AU former Vice President Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe was in 2017.

Faki Moussa Mahamat won the final vote, several rounds after Dr Kazibwe had fallen out of the race.


Chairs of the assembly of the African Union

Feb 2020 to Feb 2021 – Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa

Feb 2019 to Feb 2020 – Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt

Jan 2018 to Feb 2019 – Paul Kagame, Rwanda