Addis Ababa – African heads of state on Monday gathered in Addis Ababa for a two-day summit expected to readmit Morocco into the organisation after a 33-year absence.
Members are also expected to elect a new chairperson to succeed South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Dlamini-Zuma is the first woman to serve as the continent’s top diplomat.
Report says Morocco is the only country that does not to belong to the 54-member body.
Although, Morocco left its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, in 1984 after it recognised the independence of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara.
Morocco submitted its bid to rejoin in 2016, reportedly in the hope that being inside the AU would bring it diplomatic gains against Western Sahara’s independence movement Polisario Front and on other issues.
The summit was also due to elect a new chairperson to succeed Dlamini-Zuma, who has been tipped as one of the possible successors to her former husband, South African President Jacob Zuma.
Dlamini-Zuma is seen as leaving a mixed legacy as the AU struggles with issues including a military conflict in South Sudan, the terrorist campaign by al-Shabaab in Somalia and political crises in Burundi and Congo.
However, the AU was vocal in pressuring Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh to relinquish power after losing the Dec. 1 election, and criticised Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza for seeking a third term in spite of the constitutional two-term limit.
It has also been accused of not prioritising rights issues.
Candidates to succeed Dlamini-Zuma include Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, her Chadian counterpart Moussa Faki Mahamat and Senegalese diplomat Abdoulaye Bathily.