The African Union Commission has denied it sacked its Permanent Representative to the US Arikana Chihombori-Quao because of her anti-neocolonialism remarks.
In a statement by spokesperson Ebba Kalondo on Tuesday, the AUC said political appointees at the African Union, including Dr Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority.
“The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority,” the statement read in part.
“Dr Chihombori received a letter on 7 October 2019 bringing her tour of duty to an end, in line with the terms and conditions governing her contract of appointment, after serving three years as Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, and appreciating her contribution to the Union during her tenure. This is normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere,,” The AU Commission said.
However, there was an uproar over her firing, with online users alleging the decision was and proof of western influence on Africa over her remarks against some western states.
She has, for instance, demanded that former colonial powers, such as France, return artifacts of 14 African countries that they have held since the 1960s.
“Dr Chihombori has maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions. Therefore to state or suggest that Ambassador Chihombori’s termination of service is due to any pronouncements she has made, or opinions she may have held during her three-year tenure, is patently untrue.”
The letter indicated her services to the AU were only needed up to November 1 this year.
Meanwhile, an online petition started by lobby group the African Diaspora Union attracted more than 10,000 signatures by Monday morning to have her reinstated.
A lobby group referring itself as the United States of Africa denounced the dismissal of Dr Chihombori, saying it amounted to abuse of power by AU Moussa Faki Mahamat.