AU chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Addis Ababa – Heads of State and government will on Monday elect a new African Union Commission Chairperson to replace South Africa's Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – widely credited with improved efficiencies and women's empowerment at the august body.

Six months ago Dlamini-Zuma, who declined a second four-year term, had her tenure extended in Kigali, Rwanda, after elections to replace her were inconclusive.

Dlamini-Zuma, an academic and politician, was the first woman to lead the 50-year-old organisation.

At the weekend, South Africa Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said this time around "there would be no choice" but to conclude the elections.

Five candidates are vying for the post of AU Commission chair, including Senegals Abdoulaye Bathily, a former UN special envoy for Central Africa, Botswana's Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, Equatorial Guinea's Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy and Kenya's Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed.

Although there has been lobbying behind the scenes for the position among the 54 member States attending the 28th AU Summit, no officials have publicly stated whom they see as a front runner.

There have further been suggestions of votes going along regional lines, with reports indicating that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was behind Bathily, while the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was said to be backing Botswana's Venson-Moitoi.

In the months leading to the election, Kenya's Mohamed has campaigned extensively in east Africa and could prove to be a formidable candidate.

The foreign ministers of Chad and Equatorial Guinea, Mahamat and Mba Mokuy, respectively, appear to be the dark horses.

However, there were no clear signs which candidate individual countries would eventually back. What is clear though is that by the end of business on Monday the AU Commission will have a new chairperson.

African News Agency