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Politics

Chad's foreign minister to lead African Union

The former Chadian premier has promised to bolster "development and security" across the AU. But between the ICC and Morocco, the 54-member bloc is "more divided than ever," analysts said.

African Union (AU) leaders on Monday elected Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat to chair the AU Commission, succeeding South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The 56-year-old seasoned diplomat beat out his Kenyan counterpart after seven rounds, the Kenyan government said in a statement, describing it as a "valiant race."

Faki, a former prime minister, vowed to bolster "development and security" across the 54-member bloc, saying he dreamt of an Africa where the "sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories."

His election comes as the AU debates Morocco's divisive membership and the International Criminal Court's (ICC) jurisdiction within the continent.

'More divided than ever'

Morocco quit the Organization of African Unity, the AU's predecessor, in 1984 over support for the Polisario Front's claim to represent the Western Sahara, contested by the North African kingdom. Rabat last year applied for membership to the 54-nation bloc.

However, 12 nations, including heavyweights Nigeria, South Africa and Algeria, have requested a legal opinion from the AU on whether it could accept a member that is "occupying parts of the territory" of another member.

Separately, South Africa and Kenya accused the ICC of being a tool of Western imperialism that targets the African continent. However, Nigeria and Botswana have argued that it contributes to countries where justice systems have been compromised by conflict.

"You have all these calls for unity but actually, if you look at the AU now, it is more divided than ever - over Morocco, the regional divisions and the ICC," said AU expert Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.

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ls/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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