By Shout-Africa Gambia Correspondent – President Yahya Jammeh has pulled out of the race for the presidency of the African Union Assembly, The Gambia’s foreign minister told RFI on Thursday.
This leaves Benin’s President Boni Yayi the likely winner of the rotating one-year term.
“The president took the decision to withdraw his candidacy,” Mamadou Tangara said, after a closed-door meeting of foreign ministers from the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
The other main candidate for the regional bloc’s presidency was said to be Benin’s Yayi, and Jammeh’s move is likely to pave the way for him to replace current AU president Equatorial Guinea’s Theodoro Obiang.
Tangara told RFI that following Jammeh’s re-election in November for a fourth term of office “Yahya Jammeh felt it better to concentrate on domestic politics”.
“He wants to devote the first year of his election to satisfy and meet the needs and aspirations of the Gambian people,” Tangara said, speaking on the sidelines of the AU summit in Addis Ababa.
Tangara said The Gambia had withdrawn in favour of Benin, while ECOWAS had reached a consensus on Yayi’s candidacy.
The AU Assembly is the bloc’s most important decision-making body. It is made up of heads of state from all 54 members of the organisation.
This year’s summit also sees another leadership contest in the chairmanship of the AU Commission.
This pits incumbent AU Commission chairman Jean Ping against South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.