Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been appointed the new Chairman of the 54-nation African Union, at the two-day heads of state summit in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.
After 25 years in office, Mugabe, the 3rd longest serving African President, now 90, is most known for his oppressive dictatorial governance, poor human rights record and vehement anti-gay rhetoric.
“The ascension of Mugabe, one of Africa's most divisive figures, to the rotating position has drawn criticism.
Obert Gutu, a spokesman for the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said that Mugabe "has trashed democracy in Zimbabwe and he and his party have ruined the economy". "He lacks the political legitimacy to lead an Africa that should be looking to consolidate democracy and good governance."
Zimbabwe, a once-prosperous nation of 13 million people in Southern Africa, has struggled since Mugabe's government began seizing farms owned by Caucasian people in 2000.
The president is also accused of using widespread violence to win several disputed elections, according to human rights groups. The country had suffered hyperinflation until it abandoned its currency for the US dollar in 2009."
Melanie Nathan, the Executive Director of African Human Rights Coalition noted: "This is most disappointing. Mr. Mugabe’s appointment sends the message that praises dictatorial regimes. It is a lauding of autocracy, serving a harsh blow to those who strive for Democracy, where leadership changes on a regular basis. Though merely a symbolic role, the stature of the position elevates Mugabe, rewarding and validating human rights abuses, oppression and corruption."