Leaders of eight African Union countries fail to break a deadlock over the next leader for the 54-member body, highlighting divisions that have repeatedly threatened decision making within the group.
COTONOU, BENIN (MARCH 17, 2012) (REUTERS) -Leaders of eight African Union countries arrived in the Benin port city of Cotonou of Saturday (March 17) for a meeting to discuss the organizations leadership following deadlocked elections.
The meeting failed to break a crisis over the leadership of the 54-member body, highlighting divisions that have repeatedly stymied its decision-making.
The talks were called after neither of the two front-runners for the AU commission chairman post - former South African foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon - managed to secure an outright majority during a voting contest in January.
A statement released at the talks said a further round of talks would be scheduled to try and break the deadlock before a summit in Malawi around the middle of the year.
"Fruitful exchanges conducted within the committee, have led to positive steps in the process of finding a consensual solution to the election of President, Vice President and Members of the Committee of the African Union. The consultations started here in Cotonou, will continue between members of the committee in particular between the Republic of Gabon and the Republic of South Africa," Benin's, Foreign affairs Minister, Arifari Nassirou said.
Ping's mandate has been extended until then. The commission is the AU secretariat's top administrative unit and the chairman its public face.
President Yayi Boni of Benin asked members to make balanced decisions that would generally benefit the organization.
"To succeed in our mission we must rise above the individual interests of our member states. It is important to keep in mind that progress in our beloved continent of Africa is not possible with this constant search for a consensus for the sake of cohesion," said Boni.
South African President, Jacob Zuma's failure to secure a majority for Dlamini-Zuma, his ex-wife, after Ping's much criticised tenure was a blow to South Africa, which regards itself as an emerging power championing African causes, but is seen by some other states as out of touch with global affairs.
The AU was widely criticised as being behind the curve on events leading up to the Libyan war, particularly among the many Africans who were uncomfortable with the idea of Western war planes bombing African territory.
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