Mali, Burkina Faso declare AU chairperson persona non grata

 Mali and Burkina Faso decided Sunday to declare the head of the African Union (AU) persona non grata due to a controversy over a family photo taken during last month’s Russia-Africa Summit.

Azali Assoumani, the president of Comoros and current AU chairperson, refused to appear in the photo with the leaders of Burkina Faso and Mali, both of which have military-led governments, during the summit in Saint Petersburg on July 27.

Assoumani was expected to visit Mali and Burkina Faso from Aug. 14 as the AU leader, but the visit was canceled after the incident.

During the summit, some African leaders boycotted the family photo in protest against being photographed with the leaders of coup governments.

Besides Assoumani, other leaders who abstained from the photo included Senegal’s President Macky Sall, Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and Republic of the Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

It was revealed that these leaders did not want to be photographed alongside Mali’s President Assimi Goita and Burkina Faso President Ibrahim Traore, both of whom came to power through coups.

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