Ruto quits AU chair race, endorses Azali of Comoros

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President Azali Assoumani of the Union of Comoros has been elected as the new chairperson of the African Union for the year 2023.

Assoumani was elected on Saturday during the 36th ordinary session of the AU assembly which ends today in Ethiopia.

He took over the baton from Macky Sall, the President of the Republic of Senegal who has concluded his term as the chairperson for 2022.

The post rotates annually amongst the five geographic regions of Africa and over the years it has assumed the following order-East, North, Southern, Central and West Africa.

A candidate is selected by consensus or at least two-thirds of the majority of votes by the member states.

Both Kenya and Comoros vied for the position in 2023.

President William Ruto, however, stepped down for Assoumani.

The chairperson of the Union is expected to complete the term without interruption hence countries with impending elections are ineligible to contest.

In his acceptance speech, Assoumani thanked the heads of state from East Africa for endorsing him for the position.

“I want to my colleagues, brothers and sisters from the countries of East Africa for having supported my candidature for this noble function and more particularly my dear Brother, President William Ruto who had the elegance to withdraw the candidacy of his beautiful country, Kenya,” Assoumani said.

He termed his election as a great honour to his country, noting this has proved to the World its conviction that all countries have the same rights and enjoy the same freedoms.

Outgoing chairperson, Sall, on his part recognized the AU chairperson, Moussa Faki for his leadership and support, including all the members of the Commission.

“Serving our continent has been a privilege and a great pride because I believe in a united Africa, an Africa standing up, an Africa at work, an Africa in peace and confident in its future,” Sall stated.

In the new composition structure, the second vice chair of the Union went to Botswana, (Southern Region), the third vice chair to Burundi (Central Region) while that of the Rapporteur went to Senegal (West African region).