Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat elected AU Commission chair
Moussa Faki Mahamat is Chad’s minister of foreign affairs and economic integration and represents the Central African Economic and Monetary Community in the AU race. Mahamat was the prime minister of Chad from 2003 to 2005. In 2007 he was appointed president of the country’s Economic, Social, and Cultural Council. A year later, in 2008, he became foreign minister.
A long-time member of the Patriotic Salvation Movement, the ruling party in Chad, Mahamat is President Idriss Déby’s, loyal right-hand man. He was Déby’s campaign director for the May 2001 presidential election. In 2002, the president appointed him as minister of public works and transport. “Mr Mahamat has the strong support of President Déby, one of Africa’s longest-ruling presidents, who has a very high profile in Africa as the current AU chairperson, especially with his recent peacekeeping efforts in the region,” comments Louw-Vaudran.
Mahamat attended university in Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo, where he studied law. He went into exile — to join the Democratic Revolutionary Council headed by Chadian military leader Acheikh Ibn-Oumar — when Hissène Habré took power in 1982. He returned in 1991 after Déby took power. Between 1996 and 1999, he was director-general of the National Sugar Society.
Outside Central Africa, Mahamat doesn’t have much diplomatic experience. As foreign minister, he was mainly immersed in dealing with the activities of Islamist extremist organisation Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin area, and with the conflict in Libya, Mali and the Sahel region. With him having previously been a prime minister however, other African leaders may see him as the most senior candidate.
He has received good coverage in the French media over his efforts to garner China’s support in bringing about peace and stability on the continent.
At the summit at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing last year, Mahamat praised China’s military assistance to the AU to support a permanent force and a rapid response capability to humanitarian crises.
Mahamat takes the baton from outgoing AU chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.