|Chairperson of the|
|Term length||One year|
|Inaugural holder||Thabo Mbeki|
|Formation||9 July 2002|
The Chairperson of the African Union is the ceremonial head of the African Union elected by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a one-year term. It rotates among the continent's five regions.
A candidate must be supported by at least two-thirds of the member states or by consensus. The chairperson is expected to complete the term without interruption; hence eligible countries with impending elections may be ineligible.
In 2002, South African President Thabo Mbeki served as the inaugural chairman of the union. The post rotates annually amongst the five geographic regions of Africa; and over the years it has assumed the following order: East, North, Southern, Central and West Africa.
In January 2007, the assembly elected Ghanaian President John Kufuor over Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir due to the ongoing Conflict in Darfur.[unreliable source?] The government of Chad threatened to withdraw its membership if Sudan assumed the chair. Some had suggested Tanzania as a compromise candidate from the East African region. By consensus, Ghana was elected instead as it was celebrating its 50th independence anniversary that year.
In January 2010, Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi unsuccessfully tried to extend his tenure by an additional year, saying more time was needed in order to implement his vision for a United States of Africa - of which he was a strong proponent. Libya was at the time one of the largest financial supporters of the AU. The election of Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in January 2011 was criticized by human rights activists as it undermined the AU's commitment to democracy.
Congolese Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe have both led the AU and its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity during the terms 1986–88 and 2006–07, and 1997–98 and 2015–16 respectively.
In February 2019, South Africa was elected as the incoming chair and took over in 2020. It was later agreed that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa would the position of AU Chairperson in January 2020. In February 2020, it was agreed that Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi will succeed Ramaphosa as AU Chairperson in 2021.
|#||Portrait||Chairperson||Took Office||Left Office||Country||Region|
|1||Thabo Mbeki||9 July 2002||10 July 2003||South Africa||Southern Africa|
|2||Joaquim Chissano||10 July 2003||11 July 2004||Mozambique||Southern Africa|
|3||Olusegun Obasanjo||11 July 2004||24 January 2006||Nigeria||West Africa|
|4||Denis Sassou Nguesso||24 January 2006||24 January 2007||Republic of Congo||Central Africa|
|5||John Kufuor||30 January 2007||31 January 2008||Ghana||West Africa|
|6||Jakaya Kikwete||31 January 2008||2 February 2009||Tanzania||East Africa|
|7||Muammar Gaddafi||2 February 2009||31 January 2010||Libya||North Africa|
|8||Bingu wa Mutharika||31 January 2010||31 January 2011||Malawi||Southern Africa|
|9||Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo||31 January 2011||29 January 2012||Equatorial Guinea||Central Africa|
|10||Yayi Boni||29 January 2012||27 January 2013||Benin||West Africa|
|11||Hailemariam Desalegn||27 January 2013||30 January 2014||Ethiopia||East Africa|
|12||Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz||30 January 2014||30 January 2015||Mauritania||North Africa|
|13||Robert Mugabe||30 January 2015||30 January 2016||Zimbabwe||Southern Africa|
|14||Idriss Déby||30 January 2016||30 January 2017||Chad||Central Africa|
|15||Alpha Condé||30 January 2017||28 January 2018||Guinea||West Africa|
|16||Paul Kagame||28 January 2018||10 February 2019||Rwanda||East Africa|
|17||Abdel Fattah el-Sisi||10 February 2019||10 February 2020||Egypt||North Africa|
|18||Cyril Ramaphosa||10 February 2020||Incumbent||South Africa||Southern Africa|
|19||Félix Tshisekedi||Democratic Republic of Congo||Central Africa|
The Chairperson is assisted by a bureau of four vice chairpersons including a rapporteur.
|Félix Tshisekedi||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Central Africa||First Vice Chairperson|
|Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta||Mali||West Africa||Second Vice Chairperson|
|Uhuru Kenyatta||Kenya||East Africa||Third Vice Chairperson|
|Abdel Fattah el-Sisi||Egypt||North Africa||Fourth Vice Chairperson (Rapporteur)|