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First woman elected head of African Union Commission

July 16, 2012

Over the weekend, South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was chosen as the new leader of the African Union (AU) Commission. Dlamini-Zuma, South African President Jacob Zuma's ex-wife, received 37 votes while her competitor, incumbent leader Jean Ping of Gabon, only got 14 votes from the group of African leaders, according to Xinhua. The victory followed a six-month voting standoff in which the two competitors were neck-and-neck in a series of voting rounds - a minimum of 34 votes were needed for Dlamini-Zuma to clinch the win.

"Now we have clarity," Jakkie Cilliers, executive director of the South Africa-based Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria, told Reuters. "It means that the other nine commissioners can be elected and the African Union, which has been under a lame duck management recently because of the lack of clarity, has a clear direction and can deal with the real issues."

The AU is currently seeking support from the United Nations Security Council to handle a crisis situation in Mali as well as other militaristic needs to stabilize Africa, Reuters reports. Once these issues are conquered, Dlamini-Zuma can begin to work toward improving the AU's economy and political standings. Those who want to find out more about the AU elections can make calls to South Africa with international phone cards.

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