South Africa's Dlamini-Zuma takes up AU office By ARGAW ASHINE | Monday, October 15   2012 at  09:55

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
The incoming head of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is greeted by diplomats as she arrives at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport on October 13, 2012. Dr Dlamini-Zuma is set to take over on October 15 as head of the AU’s executive committee from Jean Ping, who has been chairperson since 2008.   PHOTO | AFP

Former South African Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Monday officially started a four-year tenure as the head of the African Union's executive arm.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had arrived at the Addis Ababa seat of the 54-member bloc over the weekend.

She took over from Gabonese Jean Ping, whom she ousted in July after a bruising six months of battle that exposed internal bloc rifts.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and current AU chair Thomas Boni Yayi, who is also Benin President were in attendance.

Dr Yayi wished her "great success" during the inauguration ceremony in the Ethiopian capital.

Under Dr Ping, the AU made some progress especially in Somalia, Cote d'Ivoire and in the Sudan's protracted peace negotiations.

However its inertia over the Libyan crisis bought it a lot of flak.

The new chair will have her work cut out with preserving the fragile peace in Somalia, the Mali and Sahelian crises and the expected deployment of peacekeeping forces in the DR Congo already waiting on her in-tray.

She has already said she supports military intervention in Mali, as long as it does not "create more problems" in the troubled west African state.

African leaders traditionally meet twice a year to discuss the most pertinent issues on the continent.

The organisation's charter limits the powers of the AU Commission, which implements decisions made by heads of state and government, but it still plays a pivotal role in running its day to day activities.