By Watchdog reporter

Chadian foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahamat has been elected the African Union Commission chair in a close race.

African heads of states gathered in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to elect a new chairman.

Five candidates contended for the position to replace outgoing leader Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the first female to lead the bloc of 54 states, who is not seeking a second term in office after completing her four-year stint.

The contenders were: Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, Abdoulaye Bathily, a Senegalese diplomat and academic, Chad’s Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, Botswana’s Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, and Mba Mokuy, a former political adviser from the ex-Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea.

The AU was supposed to pick a new leader in July last year but the election was postponed following three rounds of voting after candidates failed to garner the required number of votes. A candidate needs to secure at least a two-thirds majority, 36 votes, to be declared winner.

More than 50 percent of the member states abstained from the second round of voting last year.

Last year, Uganda’s representative, Specioza Wandera Kazibwe Kazibwe was disqualified from the same race after she fell short of scooping the required two-thirds majority vote during the voting session at the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

The 15-Member ECOWAS body chose to abstain from voting.