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South Africa's Dlamini-Zuma elected first woman head of AU Commission

(Xinhua)

08:57, July 16, 2012

South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma attends the opening ceremony of the 19th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, July 15, 2012. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa won the election for the Chairmanship of the African Union Commission at the vote held on Sunday during the 19th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Xinhua/Michael)

ADDIS ABABA, July 15 (Xinhua) -- South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma surged strong in the tight race for the African Union Commission Presidency, clinching 37 votes against Jean Ping of Gabon, the incumbent's 14 votes to emerge winner of the seat.

There were loud celebrations inside the hall where some 51 African leaders gathered to cast votes for the next leader of the AU Commission, after a six-month deadlock that appeared set to persist.

Dlamini-Zuma's strong showing at the vote started at the first round, when she got 27 votes against Ping's 24 votes, surging strongly to 29-22 in the second round, before falling one vote short of the 34 votes required to clinch the seat in the third round.

According to the voting rules, Ping, who was losing, was forced to pull out of the race in the third round, allowing the winning candidate to run alone in a fourth round, where she emerged the winner.

Diplomats recalled tense moments in the voting hall when foreign ministers had to consult on behalf of their heads of state in the final rounds of the vote before Dlamini-Zuma emerged the winner.

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