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African Union summit: disunity on display

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A fairly vicious battle for the AU’s top leadership position, as chairman of the AU Commission, shows that unity is still a distant goal.

The incumbent is Jean Ping, a Gabonese diplomat of mixed heritage. His father was a Chinese immigrant, his mother was Gabonese. Mr. Ping was educated in France, and rose up through politics to be chief of cabinet for the long-ruling Gabonese President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba. The magazine African Confidential quoted Ping as being largely uncritical of China’s growing role in Africa.

With China, everything is simple," Ping is quoted by African Confidential as saying. "She gives us debt forgiveness or long-term loans without interest or conditions.”

But Ping’s capabilities as a diplomat were not quite up to the exacting standards of South Africa.

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