Pressure is continuing to mount on the African Union for terminating the appointment of Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao as its ambassador to the United States on October 17.
Several organisations want Dr Chihombori-Quao — who has Zimbabwean roots — to be reinstated, as they believed she had been sacked because of her pan-African views and her “outspokenness and strong views against France’s occupation and hold over its former African colonies”.
The AU Commission has, on the other hand, maintained that the diplomat was relieved of her position in line with the commission’s rules where her political appointment had “come to an end”.
Organisations sympathetic to the US-trained doctor have since launched petitions and calls for her to be reinstated.
African Diaspora Congress, one of the organisations that have petitioned the AU demanding her reinstatement, said the diplomat was fired because of “influence and pressure exerted on African leaders and people by the former colonial powers of Europe”.
The group’s secretary, Mr Apollos Nwauwa, said some leaders were not happy with Dr Chihombori-Quao’s “bold but honest” stance on pan-African issues.
The petition that has trended on online has since garnered more than 37 000 signatures.
“Why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of state and government consulted? Who called the shots? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neocolonialism?” the petition reads.
In a recent tweet, AU chair President Moussa Faki Mahamat indicated that he has received the new AU Ambassador to the US.
Dr Chihombori-Quao will be replaced by Jessica Lapenn
In a letter addressed to Dr Chihombori-Quao on October 7, President Mahamat said the diplomat was relieved of her position in line with the commission’s rules.
The spokeswoman for the AU chairman’s office, Mr Ebba Kalondo, told the media that Dr Chihombori-Quao has come to the end of her political appointment after spending three years in the position, and to imply she was being punished for her views is not true.
“This is normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere,” said Mr Kalondo in a statement.
In Zimbabwe, Dr Chihombori-Quao came into the limelight after she was linked to former Prime Minister in the inclusive Government Mr Morgan Tsvangirai after the two were spotted at former South African president Jacob Zuma’s inauguration in 2009.
However, those close to Mr Tsvangirai, who was the MDC-T founding leader, said Dr Chihombori-Quao was a niece to the late opposition leader.