Qaddafi, Mutharika to fight over AU leadership

Mutharika of Malawi

African heads of state and government are arriving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the 14th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) to be opened 31 Jan. 2010.

Accordingly, Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Zambian President Rupiah Banda, Djiboutian President Ismael Omar Guelleh, and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika have already arrived in Addis Ababa on 29 Jan. 2010.

Meanwhile, Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has said the southern African country was qualified to lead the African Union and that he was ready to take up the mantle.

“The chairmanship of the African Union is rotational,” Mutharika told journalists before departing for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend the summit at which he has been earmarked to take over the chairmanship of the continental grouping from the Libyan leader, Muammar Kadhafi.

He said: “The Southern African region, through SADC (the Southern African Development Community), has elected Malawi and therefore we are looking forward to be nominated.”

Mutharika’s statement came amid a brewing diplomatic row over the chairmanship, with reported attempts to extend Kadhafi’s chairmanship of the organisation.

The Libyan leader’s backers, including their northern allies Tunisia, argue that the AU chairmanship – faced by a US$ 1.3bn deficit for its programmes – needs someone with demonstrable financial muscle like Kadhafi.

Kadhafi reportedly bank-roles some of AU programmes.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has joined other countries backing the candidacy of Mutharika to head the AU at the summit of the Heads of State of the continent body beginning Saturday in Addis-Ababa.

Nigeria had decided to throw its weight behind the Malawian leader, reported Saturday Vanguard newspaper of Nigeria.

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