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'King of kings' Qaddafi named African Union head

February 03, 2009

Libyan President Muammar el-Qaddafi has been named the new head of the 53-member African Union. He was elected by the African heads of State in a closed-door session, for a one-year period.

Notwithstanding accusations of being a terror sponsor, the Libyan President helped set up the African Union and has been vouching for a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move within the continent.

On February 1, the summit debated a Libyan-backed proposal to set up a single government -- the United States of Africa.

Dressed in flowing golden robes, Qaddafi had earlier circulated a letter saying he was coming for the AU summit in Ethiopia as the king of traditional kings of Africa and that he wanted to be seated in the same manner.

Libya has never held the chairmanship in the 46-year history of the African Union and its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity. This contributed to his being denied the chairmanship of the Organization of African Unity inĀ 1982.

The chairmanship of the African Union is a rotating position held by heads of state for one year. It is a position heads of state can use to wield influence over the continent's politics.

Image: Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi attends the opening session of the 12th African Union Summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, on February 2.
Photograph: Antony Njuguna/Reuters

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