90-year-old Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe has been named the new Chairman of the African Union.
The Nonagenerian takes over from Mauritania’s President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz at a ceremony belt at the Union’s Secretariat in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia.
Unconfirmed reports has it that the Chinese government had before now lobbied for Mugabe to emerge President of the union so as to influence political and economic decisions in Africa.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe took over the post of African Union chairman on Friday, replacing Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
Mugabe, Africa’s oldest president aged 90, shook hands with Abel Aziz in front of fellow leaders to applause at the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital.
“By electing me to preside over this august body, with full knowledge of the onerous responsibility that lies ahead, I humbly accept your collective decision,” Mugabe said, as he thanked leaders for granting him the position.
Mugabe, a former liberation war hero who is Africa’s third-longest serving leader, is viewed with deep respect by many on the continent.
But he is also subject to travel bans from both the United States and European Union in protest at political violence and intimidation.
Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, is accused of crushing opponents to ensure his ZANU-PF party won every election for more than three decades.
Mugabe described his memories of attending the AU’s forerunner in 1963, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), also in Addis Ababa.
“Africa has come a long way since then,” he said. Last year Mugabe boycotted an EU-Africa Summit in Brussels after he was given a rare invitation — but his wife was still denied a visa.
The China Ties
Economic relations between China and Africa, one part of more general Africa–China relations, began centuries ago and continue through the present day. This includes the ongoing move by the People’s Republic of China to secure highly needed natural resources through Chinese-African trade and diplomatic relations. The building currently housing the African Union in Ethiopia was donated by the Chinese government to the Union at zero cost.
The quest for key resources in Africa targets areas rich in oil, minerals, timber, and cotton, such as Sudan, Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa. Many African countries are viewed as fast-growing markets and profitable outlets for the immediate export of cheap manufactured goods, and the future export of high-end products and services.