Tanzania: First woman takes over as AU Commission’s Secretary General

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) – African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has appointed outgoing Secretary General of the Commission, Ambassador Jean Mfasoni, Special Advisor in her Office as from 1 July 2015, the Chairperson’s Office announced in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.

Mfasoni retired on Tuesday after 35 years of uninterrupted service to both the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and its successor, the African Union (AU). The same day he handed over his duties to incoming Secretary General and first woman to occupy the position, Ms. Djeneba Diarra.

The new Secretary General of the AU Commission is a Malian national. Prior to her appointment, she was Deputy Legal Counsel (2004-2014) of the Commission and served as acting Legal Counsel from July 2012 to December 2013.

She was also acting Executive Secretary of the AU Advisory Board on the Fight against Corruption (March 2014-March 2015) based at the Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania, the unique continental organization mandated by the AU to deal with corruption and other related matters in Africa.

Diarra joined the OAU in 1996 as Legal Officer, a position that enabled her to gather enormous experience in the drafting of Legal instruments governing the AU.

According to a statement issued by the AUC on Wednesday, Ms. Diarra has congratulated Mfasoni “for his commitment and dedication to African development and unity”.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony on behalf of the AUC Chairperson, the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, commended the work done by Ambassador Mfasoni for Africa.

Chergui also welcomed the appointment of the first woman to the position of Secretary General and recalled the commitment of the AU Commission to promote women empowerment through their appointment to leadership positions.

Mfasoni, a 62-year-old Burundian citizen, worked for the Government of Burundi as Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Interior for three years before joining the OAU in 1980.

He occupied various senior positions in the OAU/AU  in the fields of refugees and internally displaced persons and humanitarian matters, Africa-Arab Cooperation, Human Resource Management and Development and intra-African Cooperation and Political Affairs in general.

He was Head of Africa-Arab Cooperation for over five years, Head of Personnel for over seven years (1992-1999) before becoming a Member of the Transition Team in charge of Administrative and Human Resources issues for the period 1999-2000 which oversaw reforms in the Organization.

In those positions, Mfasoni developed various policy documents pertaining to resettlement of refugees, the human resource development as well as schemes for improving relations between Africa and the Arab World. He was appointed in September 2000 as Head of Political Cooperation within the Department of Political Affairs.

After the launch of the AU in 2002, Mfasoni was assigned the duties of Director of Political Affairs (2002-2004) where, according to the AUC, he “greatly contributed to the development of relevant policy documents on the issues of Democracy and Elections, Governance, Civil Society, Human Rights and Humanitarian Matters”.

In 2005-2006 he was assigned duties of the AU Permanent Representative to the European Union and African Caribbean and Pacific Group Secretariat in Brussels in 2005-2006.

He was recalled the following year as Director of Conference Services (2007) at the AU headquarters before being appointed in November 2007 as the Secretary General of the AU Commission.
-0- PANA AR/MA 1July2015

01 july 2015 20:21:24

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