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South Africa minister elected first female leader of African Union

South African politician Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Monday was elected the first female leader of the African Union (AU) [official website; JURIST news archive]. Dlamini-Zuma, 63, is the South African Minister of Home Affairs. She was voted into office [AP report] on Sunday evening after she successfully challenged the incumbent candidate, Jean Ping of Gabon, who held the office since 2008. Ping had the backing of French-speaking African nations, while Dlamini-Zuma had the backing of English-speaking nations. The election was praised by numerous organizations including the African National Congress [party website] party. During the Sunday vote Dlamini-Zuma was able to secure 37 out of 54 votes to win the required two-thirds majority. She is also the first South African to hold the post.

Last week AU announced [JURIST report] that it will vote on whether to establish a continental criminal court to try human rights crimes. The African Court on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) currently does not have jurisdiction to try criminals and asked the AU to pass a resolution granting it the authority to sentence human rights criminals. Last year, African Union Commission (AUC) [official website] Chairperson Jean Ping had accused [JURIST report] former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [official website], Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile], of targeting African citizens for prosecution. The accusation came amid a vote by Africa's foreign ministers, who supported Kenya's bid to defer the trials of numerous suspects who allegedly planned the 2007 post-election violence [Reuters backgrounder]. In 2010 the Kenyan Parliament approved a motion to withdraw the country from the ICC [JURIST report]. The vote came a week after Ocampo presented [JURIST report] cases against six individuals believed to be responsible for the 2007 post-election violence that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths in the country.

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