2016 is African Union’s year of elections. The election of the entire leadership of the AU Commission including the Chairperson is due during the June 2016 summit of the AU. A ministerial committee the elections submits its report on the modalities for the election during the ongoing meeting of the Executive Council of the AU.

The election that is of immediate interest concerns the members of the Peace and Security Council of the AU, the highest decision-making body of the AU on matters of peace and security. While in 2015 there were no seats for election, all the 15 seats of the PSC are due for election in 2016. This is the second time since the PSC came into operation in 2004 that all the 15 seats of the PSC are up for grabs.

It is at the end of March 2016 that the tenure of the current members of the PSC (see Table 1 below) will come to an end.

Table 1 PSC members whose two-year term ends in March 2016 (author’s data)

Region States
Central Africa Burundi, Chad & Equatorial Guinea
East Africa Ethiopia, Tanzania & Uganda
North Africa Algeria & Libya
Southern Africa Mozambique, Namibia & South Africa
West Africa Guinea, Niger, Nigeria & the Gambia

The procedures for the election of members of the PSC are set out in the Protocol establishing the Peace and Security Council of the AU (PSC Protocol) and the Modalities for Election of PSC Members. Most notably, Article 5 (1) of the PSC Protocol states that the Council’s membership is to be decided according to the principle of ‘equitable regional representation and rotation’. In terms of regional representation, while East Africa, Southern Africa and Central Africa are allocated three seats each, West Africa and North Africa are allocated four and two seats respectively.

Following the submissions from member states expressing interest for election to the PSC, the list of candidates for 2016 elections are as reflected in the table below.

Candidates for the 2016 PSC election (author’s data) 

Region Available Seats in the 2016 Election States Running Years Previously Served on the Council
Central Africa 3 Burundi, Gabon, Congo and Chad Burundi served three times, (2008, 2010 & 2014) and seeking reelection; Gabon served twice previously (2004 & 2007); Congo served three times (2004, 2006, 2012); Chad served three times (2008, 2010 & 2014)
Eastern Africa 3 Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda Djibouti served twice previously (2010 & 2012) Kenya served twice (2004 & 2010) Rwanda served three times (2006, 2008 & 2010) Uganda served three times (2006, 2008 & 2013) Sudan served ones (2004) Comoros & Eritrea never served on the Council previously
Northern Africa 3 Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania Algeria served three times (2004, 2007 & 2013) Egypt served two times (2006 & 2012) Mauritania served ones (2010)
Southern Africa 3 Botswana, Swaziland & Zambia Botswana served ones (2006) Swaziland served ones (2008) & Zambia served ones (2008).
Western Africa 4 Sierra Leone, Niger, Nigeria & Togo Nigeria served four times (2004, 2007, 2010 & 2013) Niger served ones (2014) Togo served ones (2004) & Sierra Leone never served previously.

Only two of the five regions Southern and West Africa submitted number of candidates equal to the number of seats available to those regions. As it has been the case in previous elections, East Africa submitted much higher number of candidates (seven) than the number of seats available for the region.

From Central Africa region, Cameroon was a candidate in the original list that came from the region but withdrew its candidacy in favor of the Republic of Congo before the start of the Executive Council session. But the region has one candidate in excess of the number of seats available to it. In North Africa, although Tunisia was among the candidates in the original list of candidates it seems to have abandoned its candidacy. Yet, it remains to have one candidate more than the two seats allocated to that region.

From West Africa, Nigeria has become a de facto permanent member of the PSC that continued to retain the three year term of office in the PSC since PSC inauguration in 2004. It is sure to be back in the PSC.

In the application for candidacy, a new trend of specifying the term of office of the seat for which candidates vie has been witnessed. Accordingly, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Nigeria and Zambia expressed their interest to run for the three-year term.   Similarly Burundi, Chad and Comoros indicated their wish to vie for two-year term. All the other candidates did not make any indications.