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Robert Mugabe Just Became Head Of The African Union Because Sure Why Not

When your whole thing is to keep presidents from being overthrown, what's the harm.

Posted on January 30, 2015, at 1:27 p.m. ET

On Friday, Robert Mugabe, the 90-year-old president of Zimbabwe, was named the chairperson of the African Union (AU), a collection of 54 African countries devoted in theory to promoting economic and diplomatic solidarity.

STR / Via AP

Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and has presided over a massive crash in the Zimbwaean economy and constant repression of political opponents and human rights in general.

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / Via AP

I mean, it's hard to blame the AU for being pretty cool with this. These are the standards, taken from the AU Charter, that states have to uphold in order to be members in good standing.

African Union / Via au.int

Notice anything missing? That's right: any sort of flag wave towards democracy. This despite being composed of 52 republics and two kingdoms.

Elias Asmare / Via AP

The only thing that ever winds up getting a country suspended from the AU is when a coup takes out a leader, like when Egypt was suspended in 2013, after the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi. (Don't worry, they were let back in last year.)

Jim Watson / Via AP

Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, now President of Egypt, in 2013

So if you value continuity over everything else, why not promote someone like Mugabe to be the chairperson? Especially when he joins past chairs such as Libya's Muammar al-Qaddafi (2009-2010) and Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang (2011-2012)?

Amr Nabil / Via AP

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, center, with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, and his Yemeni counterpart Ali Abdullah Saleh, left, in 2010

At least, as Piers Pigou, Southern Africa project director for the International Crisis Group tells the AP, the move is symbolic at best. But, he said, it does send "a negative signal of African solidarity of leaders who've misruled their countries."

STR / Via AP

...Ok! Enjoy having Mugabe as your public face, African Union.

Elias Asmare / Via AP

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