The African Union's 19th African Summit is being held in Addis Ababa on 15-16 July, following its heads of state and government assembly which began on 9 July.
Ahead of the summit, the African Union (AU) chairman Jean Ping dismissed reports by South African media that he was not running for re-election as chairman. Describing the reports as "outright fallacy and fabrication", Ping confirmed his intention to stay in the race "until the very end".
An attempt to elect an AU chairperson in January fell through after Ping failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority vote to beat his rival, South African home affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The former Gabonese foreign affairs minister Ping is expected to battle against Dlamini-Zuma again for the continent's top post. Dlamini-Zuma, the former wife of incumbent South African president Jacob Zuma, was an anti-apartheid activist and has held a number of ministerial portfolios in her native South Africa. Her campaign has been endorsed by the Pan African Business Forum, which said her election would be a victory for gender equality and would give Africa a new impetus for economic development.
The AU has welcomed the participation of Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi who is expected to deliver a speech at the opening session of the African Summit. It marks the first time in 17 years that an Egyptian president has attended the African Summit. Mursi's predecessor Hosni Mubark informally boycotted the event after surviving a 1995 assassination attempt in Addis Ababa. Since then Egypt has been represented by its foreign ministers.
The AU also praised the high voter turnout for Libya's 7 July election as part of the country’s transition towards democracy, following last autumn’s revolution that led to the death of Libyan dictator and former AU head Muammar Gaddafi.
The 19th African Summit was initially scheduled to take place in Lilongwe, Malawi, but Sudan requested that it be held in Addis Ababa after Malawi tried to block the attendance of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.