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Mugabe new African Union head

Published:Saturday | January 31, 2015 | 1:08 PM

Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA (AP) -- African leaders last Friday appointed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as the new chairman of the 54-nation African Union.

The 90-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled his country since 1980, succeeds Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

The announcement was made during the African Union's two-day heads of state summit at the organisation's headquarters in Ethiopia's capital.

"During my tenure as chair, I will deliberately provoke your thoughts to pay special attention to issues of infrastructure, value addition, agriculture and climate change," Mugabe told African leaders.

Mugabe's new position has drawn criticism.

"His elevation sends a negative signal of African solidarity with leaders who've misruled their countries," said Piers Pigou, Southern Africa project director for the International Crisis Group.