DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – African leaders from the fifty-three nations have elected Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi as the new chairman of the African Union (AU), an organization formed to unite African states.
Col. Gaddafi replaces Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, whose one-year term ended Monday this week.
Reports from the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said Col. Gaddafi was elected by delegates at the AU summit, which is taking place in the Ethiopian capital.
African Union spokeswoman Habiba Mejri-Sheikh said Col Gaddafi was elected “by the heads of state in a closed-door session, for a one-year period.”
In a compromise, the summit agreed to transform the African Union Commission, which oversees the body, into an AU Authority that would have a broader mandate, Mr. Kikwete said.
“In principle, we said the ultimate is the United States of Africa. How we proceed to that ultimate – there are building blocks,” Mr. Kikwete said.
Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said governments wanting greater unity could go ahead on their own, without worrying about splitting Africa.
The chairmanship of the African Union is a rotating position held by heads of state for one year.
Reports from Addis Ababa claim that it was the turn of North Africa to lead the African Union and Col. Gaddafi was seen as the obvious choice.
Col. Gaddafi has previously outlined his vision for African unity. He wants a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move within the continent.
On Sunday, the summit debated a Libyan-backed proposal to set up a single government – the United States of Africa.