The election for the new 15 members of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) was held on 28 January at the meeting of the Executive Council of the AU. There were 22 AU member states in the list of candidates (as shown below).

Candidates for the 2016 PSC election (own compilation)

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

Few days before the election Cameroon left the election in favor of Congo. Similarly, Swaziland and South Africa swapped the former’s candidacy. It is not common for the Southern Africa region, which has the distinction of following the principle of rotation strictly, to have a current member to stand for re-election. Just before election started on 28 January, Tunisia withdrew its candidacy. At the time of the election the list of candidates was as follows.

Region Candidates in January 2016
Central Africa Burundi, Chad, Congo and Gabon
Eastern Africa Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda
Northern Africa Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania
Southern Africa Botswana, South Africa & Zambia
Western Africa Sierra Leone, Niger, Nigeria & Togo

The countries that specified their candidacy for the three-year seat of the Council were Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, Egypt, Nigeria and Zambia. According to the modalities of the Election of the PSC, if these countries do not receive the two-third majority vote required for their election they will automatically lose their candidacy altogether and will not thus stand in the elections for the two-year term membership of the PSC.

While Egypt, Nigeria and Zambia had no other country from their respective regions running for the three-year term membership of the Council, Gabon and Djibouti faced competition from other states in their region. Gabon was running against Congo and lost the election by 15 votes against Congo’s 34 votes and run out of the entire competition. Similarly, Djibouti competed for the three-year term membership of the PSC against almost all candidates from East Africa except the Comoros. After several rounds of voting it lost the election for Kenya, which received 45 votes in the last round of votes for the three-year term membership in the PSC.

Zambia, running as the only candidate for Southern Africa, was elected with 100 per cent vote for the three-year term membership in the PSC. Running as the only candidate from North Africa, Egypt was also elected by 47 votes. Similarly, Nigeria won the election receiving 49 votes.

PSC members elected for 3-year term in January 2016 

Region Elected in January 2016
Central Africa Congo
Eastern Africa Kenya
Northern Africa Egypt
Southern Africa Zambia
Western Africa Nigeria

The list of countries that run for the two-year membership in the PSC are as follows.

Region Available Seats in the 2016 Election States Running
Central Africa 2 Burundi and Chad
Eastern Africa 2 Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda
Northern Africa 1 Algeria and Mauritania
Southern Africa 2 Botswana and South Africa
Western Africa 3 Sierra Leone, Niger & Togo

In the election for the two seats slotted for Central Africa region, since Gabon went out of the election after losing the competition for the three-year term membership, Burundi and Chad became the only candidates from the region. Both countries received the required two-third majority vote (Burundi 38 and Chad 48) and duly elected to the PSC.

In the election for the two seats available for East Africa, after several round of votes Rwanda received the required majority to win one of the two seats. After another several round of votes in which the candidates with the least votes were eliminated, Uganda secured the required majority to win the remaining one seat.

For the two seats allotted for Northern Africa, Algeria received the required majority vote in the first round. Mauritania lost the competition by 13 votes against Algeria’s 39.

Since there were only two candidates for the two seats slotted for Southern Africa, both Botswana and South Africa received 48 and 49 votes respectively to win the election for the two-year membership in the PSC. Similarly, the three countries that were running for the three seats available for the West Africa region namely Sierra Leone, Niger and Togo also obtained 49, 47 and 48 votes respectively to win the election and join the PSC for two-year term.

PSC members elected for 2-year term in January 2016

Region Elected in January 2016
Central Africa Burundi and Chad
Eastern Africa Rwanda and Uganda
Northern Africa Algeria
Southern Africa Botswana and South Africa
Western Africa Sierra Leone, Niger & Togo

The result of the 2016 election of the 15 members of the PSC shows that four of the so-called ‘big five’ member states of the AU, who contribute 15 percent each to AU funds, are in the PSC. Six of the 15 countries, namely Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda are returning members of the PSC and this guarantees some level of continuity from the PSC whose term ends at the end of March 2016.

The new members of the PSC such as Egypt, Kenya & Rwanda are also expected to bring new dynamics as well. Sierra Leone is the only new member that makes it to the PSC for the very first time and thereby increasing the number of states that have so far served on the PSC to 38.

It also became clear from this election that the practice of paying no attention to the requirements of Article 5(2) of the PSC Protocol in the election of PSC members has become persistent. This provision stipulates that one of the criteria for membership in the PSC is ‘respect for constitutional governance, in accordance with the Lome Declaration, as well as the rule of law and human rights’. Like previous elections, several countries, on whose unsatisfactory human rights record the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) lamented in its report to the PRC and the Executive Council, continue to be elected to the PSC.

Until such time that PSC Protocol Article 5(2) requirements are made to trump Article 5(1) requirements of regional representation and rotation, it is completely unlikely that this anomaly in the election of PSC members would be overcome. The nature of its composition did not stop the PSC from acting against its own members (suspended Mali in 2012 for unconstitutional change of government) or having them on its agenda (such as Mali, Libya & since last year Burundi). Yet, in the year that is dedicated to human rights, it is unacceptable that this practice is allowed to continue. It is thus imperative that a AU score card of AU member states human rights performance is introduced as a basis for operaitonalizing the PSC Protocol Article 5(2)    requirements in the election of PSC members with the result of countries scoring less than 5 out of 10 being disqualified from running for membership in the PSC.

 

 

 

 

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