Chad’s former foreign minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, assumed office as head of the African Union Commission on Tuesday, pledging to reform the institution and tackle the continent’s many crises.
Faki takes over the leadership of the 54-country continental bloc days after the United Nations announced that the food emergencies in four countries, including Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria, constituted the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. “The famine that ravages vast areas of Africa these days is a real humiliation for us,” Faki told delegates at the Commission’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. “The immense potential of our continent and the enviable rate of economic growth of many member states of the Union leave us no justification for this hideous human tragedy”.
Faki, 56, campaigned on putting “development and security” at the top of his agenda in the run up to the election to the office. As Chad’s foreign minister, he took a strong position against Islamic extremism in Mali, Nigeria and the Sahel.
Faki was elected AU Commission chairperson in January after seven rounds of voting, beating Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed and candidates from Senegal, Botswana and Equatorial Guinea.
Faki takes over from Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who championed the Commission’s Agenda 2063 development program but was seen as being weak on peace and security issues and distracted by her own political aspirations in her home country South Africa.