Published On  Jan 15,  2012






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Indeed, almost all leaders have ambitions to conquer not only the people they are elected to serve or have imposed themselves upon, many have regional ambitions, which come from individual ego or nationalistic fervour.

Such is Meles Zenawi, when it comes to regional politicking. He seems to be as much in the push and shove as other leaders on the continent, such as South Africa’s Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, and Algeria’s Abdelaziz Boutefilka. Well, gone are the days when leaders such as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak were part of the bidding.

Like any mortals, though, these leaders have their own mutual likes and dislikes, as much as they have rivalries and competitions among themselves, for international attention.

Not surprisingly, these leaders and an army of their diplomats have been locked up lately in a quiet diplomatic tussle over a certain prize on the continent, gossip learnt. The top job at the African Union (AU) will be up for grabs, after Jean Ping’s (PhD) term comes to an end, next year, after conquering the helm at the AU in April 2008.

Historically backed by countries in Central Africa and East Africa, Ping has every intention to run for second term. He has a fellow countryman as an Ambassador of Gabon based in Addis Abeba, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, who has been aggressively lobbying on his behalf, disclosed gossip.

Ping’s historical opponents come from Southern African countries, spearheaded by the richest nation on the continent. Partly upset with the AU’s customary blank check certifications of elections in Africa and more so by the one recently held in the DR of Congo, Zuma appears determined to see that Ping will not stay far too long in Addis Abeba, claims gossip. He brought forward his former wife, Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, who was South Africa’s minister of Health, Foreign Affairs, and Home Affairs, to challenge Ping in the bid for commissioner.

One of the historical backers of Ping is Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. Also, bear in mind that Gabon, where Ping had served as a foreign minister, has done the bidding of Ethiopia, after being one of the two countries introducing a resolution to the United Nations Security Council, to sanction Eritrea.

Ethiopian diplomats have been very busy in pushing names for the AU’s position, forwarding their own too, gossip disclosed. After all, this is an institution where the late Kifle Wodajo was founding chairman, although in an acting position. They want to see, now, Teshome Toga, Ethiopia’s ambassador to France, replace the Kenyan Erastus J. O. Mwencha as deputy commissioner of the Africa Union Commission (AUC), claims gossip. They are as keener to see Konjit Senegiorgis, currently permanent representative of Ethiopia to the AU and ECA, hold a position as one of the 10 directorates, perhaps either in political affairs or in the most powerful, peace and security, which is currently held by the Algerian Ramtan Lamamra.

But, many at the gossip corridors are sceptical of Ethiopia’s move, gossip learnt. At least, their proposition of Konjit, a veteran diplomat since the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, has not been taken more seriously than an attempt to spoil propositions from the South Africans, claims gossip. It could perhaps be designed as a trade-off to preserve Ping in Addis Abeba for one more term, according to those at the gossip corridor.



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