South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday his country would not “bully” its way into the top job at the African Union, a key post also being contested by Gabon.
African leaders failed in January to choose between Gabon’s Jean Ping, who has held the post since 2008 and South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former foreign minister and ex-wife of the president.
The leaders met again last week in Benin to try to break the deadlock, but a decision will only be reached at the next African Union summit in July in Malawi.
“South Africa has no intention of dominating the continent or to bully any country or structure,” Zuma said in a speech in the central city of Bloemfontein.
“We stand ready to respect whatever outcome emerges from the AU summit in Malawi,” he said, according to a transcript.
Regional giant South Africa’s push for the chair of the commission is “driven by the principle of strengthening the AU and improving its functioning and operations,” said Zuma.
“We also believe in the principle of giving all regions of the AU the opportunity to serve the organisation.”
Dlamini-Zuma enjoys the backing of the predominantly English-speaking southern African region, which has never held the position since the AU was created a decade ago.
The tightly contested race is seen as exposing divides between geographical regions and French- and English-speaking Africa.