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Mugabe defies critics to become AU chairman

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe today scored a major diplomatic coup when he beat his critics to be elected chairman of the African Union. Mugabe, who turns 91 next month, thanked the union for showing confidence in him and in Zimbabwe. “By electing me to preside over this august body, with full knowledge of the onerous responsibility that lies ahead, I humbly accept your collective decision,” he said. Although this is largely a ceremonial post, Mugabe fired the first salvo against the West when he urged African countries to guard against foreigners exploiting the continent’s wealth. “African resources should belong to Africa and to no one else, except to those we invite as friends. Friends we shall have, yes, but imperialists and colonialists no more,” he said. Mugabe’s election will prove a diplomatic challenge to the West as he is expected to represent the continent at key summits yet he is still under both the United States and European Union sanctions. The EU is expected to review its sanctions on Zimbabwe next month. Only Mugabe and his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries remain on EU sanctions.  The United States has refused to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. At home, disgruntled former Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front  former Secretary for Administration Didymus  is also facing  a double dilemma. Mugabe is now chairman of both the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, the bodies Mutasa reportedly appealed to to nullify the party’s December congress that sidelined him. Maybe, that was why Mugabe was lenient with him at the politburo meeting held the very day he left for the AU summit. Now that the post is in the bag, will Mugabe still spare Mutasa?

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