Addis Ababa — Press Statement by Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, in response to an article titled, "At Last, SA may get its woman into AU post," published in The Sunday Times of South Africa, on Sunday, 8 July 2012:
My attention has been drawn to an article which appeared in the Sunday Times of South Africa in its edition of 8 July2012, to the effect that I paid a visit to South Africa on Friday, 6 July 2012, where I purportedly indicated my intention to withdraw from the race for re-election to the post of Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The paper further claims that I want "a guarantee that I will be deployed somewhere else when (I) leave office."
I am incensed by such an outright fallacy and fabrication, because nothing could be further from the truth. I am, and remain a candidate for re-election as chairperson of the African union Commission, as I have not been withdrawn by my country, Gabon, and my region. I fully intend to stay in the race until the very end and hope to earn the renewed trust of our Continent's Leaders when they meet at the 19th AU Summit, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, on 15 and 16 July 2012.
Furthermore, I wish to affirm that I have not been to the Republic of South Africa since the Global African Diaspora Summit, which took place in May 2012. This means, therefore, that I was not in South Africa on Friday, 6 July 2012, as claimed by the Sunday Times. As a matter of fact, on that day, I was on a mission to Kampala, Uganda, where I had the honour of being received by His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda. I had gone there from Chad, where I was on 4 and 5 July 2012 and had also had the honour of being received by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Chad, who is the current Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). These facts are authentic and verifiable.
The allegation that I was in South Africa on Friday, 6 July 2012 purportedly to seek some kind of "deal" that would facilitate my withdrawal from the race for re-election as Chairperson of the African Union Commission, or "a guarantee that (I) would be deployed somewhere else when (I) leave office," are totally false, baseless and frankly annoying.
These fabrications by some elements in the South African media are not new. The Sunday Times article is simply the latest in a series of malicious lies and innuendoes which constitute part of a whole strategy to tarnish my hard-earned reputation and destabilize my campaign for re-election as Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
It is also, no doubt, designed to cast some doubts about my strength of character and to undermine support from a wide range of Member States keen to re- elect me.
For the record, I wish to mention just a few of such mendacious allegations which have been circulating in the media since the campaign began last year.
1. I was first accused of having indicated to the South African authorities that was not interested in seeking re-election.
2. It was further suggested that my country, Gabon, was not supportive of my candidature.
3. When these two lies were debunked, attention was then shifted to my supposed inability to handle the situations in Cote d'Ivoire and Libya, when it is well known that it is the Government of South Africa which impeded ECOWAS' efforts to settle the Cote d'Ivoire crisis timeously and the same Government that voted in favour of resolution 1973 that authorized the bombing of Libya.
4. In December 2011, another South African Newspaper, Business Day, published an article in which it was alleged that the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Mrs. Catherine Ashton, had expressed support for my opponent's candidature. This false allegation was immediately refuted by the EU.
5. It has also been alleged that I have not managed the Commission properly during my tenure, when there is evidence to prove that a lot of reforms in the administrative and financial areas have been carried out during the last four years.
6. Furthermore, a day or two before the election in January 2012, another malicious rumour was spread in Addis Ababa, alleging that I had collapsed and was unconscious, thus implying that my health was failing and therefore I was medically unfit (and would be unable) to serve another four-year term in such a demanding high-profile position. As is evident, I have continued to discharge my responsibilities without let or hindrance, as rigorous as they have been.
7. Just before the January election also, it was maliciously alleged that I am under the influence of France and that France teleguides the affairs of the Commission by remote control. No evidence has been provided to support this allegation and there is nothing in my conduct at the AU that remotely supports that allegation.
On the contrary, I have fully implemented all AU decisions, including on Libya, which were in contradiction with the position of France.
8. Recently, it has been suggested that France is funding my campaign, including provision of an aircraft for some of the trips I have made, some of which were in fulfillment of my official duties. This is absolutely untrue. The fact is that it is my Government and my personal resources that have sustained my campaign.
9. I have been accused falsely of having illegally established the Panel of the Wise.
Unknown to them, the Panel of the Wise was provided for under the Protocol establishing the Peace and Security Council. It was put in place by my predecessor long before I assumed my post. What was done in Kampala, Uganda in July 2010 was to renew the composition of the Panel.
10. Attempts have also been made to tarnish my image and sow seeds of discord between me and my Government, as well as other Member States that support me by spreading rumours that I have been behind the destabilization of some states.
May I seize this opportunity to re-state categorically and unequivocally that I am running for re-election as Chairperson of the African Union Commission. I am in the race because I believe in the African Union and would appreciate the opportunity to finish the work we have been doing in the last four years. I am still in this race and gratefully look forward to the wholesome support of the majority of the Leaders of AU Member States.
Furthermore, I would like to emphatically underscore that I have the full support of the Gabonese Leader, H.E. President Ali Bongo Ondimba, his Government and the Gabonese Nation. The President of Gabon has provided me with an aircraft to fly around the Continent and meet with African Leaders and talk to them about my vision for the African Union and how I intend to continue to lead the Commission, if re-elected.
The President has also sent Envoys to a number of AU Member State, to campaign for my re-election. For all these, I am grateful to President Ali Bongo Ondimba and the Gabonese Government and Nation for their unwavering support.
I am also grateful to the Leaders of the majority of AU Member States who voted for me last January and whose support I continue to enjoy.
Finally, let me end by affirming that I am the Candidate of Gabon and Africa, and have not received any financial or other support from any non-African Power.
This election is an African Union matter and will be decided only by African Union Member States.
I refuse to lower the moral threshold for this campaign and hope that all involved in the election will also conduct a clean and decent campaign that brings honour to Africa and sets a great example of democratic competition for the entire Continent.
10 July 2012
Jean Ping Chairperson
African Union Commission