Nigeria affirms support for Dlamini Zuma's candidacy

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pretoria - Nigeria has affirmed, through its Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, its support for Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's candidature for the top post of the African Union.

He was speaking in Cape Town on Wednesday after the 8th South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission (BNC), which he co-chaired with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Sambo said Nigeria would support SA to take up any position, including in the United Nations - where SA is a non-permanent member in the UNSC.

Despite some commentators' perceptions that there might be unease between the two countries, Sambo said Nigeria had put the incident that took place at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in March - where several Nigerians were deported after a dispute over yellow fever vaccinations - behind it.

"Nigerians are happy about the way they are treated in South Africa," he said, adding that there was a plan to expand the number of years for which travel visas could be used for, while doing away completely with diplomatic passports.

He said he had a deep respect for the progress South Africa had made in overcoming apartheid, having, as a student, donated money towards the struggle against apartheid.

Dlamini-Zuma is contesting for the AU Commission chairperson post against incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon.

In January, African leaders shelved the election of the chairperson for their July summit to be held in Malawi after both the incumbent and Dlamini Zuma failed to secure the two thirds majority needed to lead the organ.

In their communiqu, after the BNC, both Motlanthe and Sambo expressed the need for strengthening the AU and sub-regional organisations in Africa with a view to promoting peace, security, stability, democracy and sustainable development.

In this light, they strongly urged the international community to support the unwavering efforts of the AU in settling the socio-political crises on the continent whenever they arose.

On issues in the international arena, Motlanthe and Sambo reaffirmed the necessity to introduce, without further delay, reforms within the United Nations system, particularly with regard to the Security Council.

The two countries signed a number of agreements on cooperation in various fields, including plans to secure oil from Nigeria.