Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat has been elected as the new chairperson of the African Union Commission, in a vote held at the bloc's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.

After seven rounds of voting, the Chadian foreign affairs minister defeated favourites Amina Mohamed of Kenya and Senegal's Abdoulaye Bathily.

Two other candidates, Botswana's foreign minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, and Mba Mokuy, of Equatorial Guinea, also contested for the seat.

The 56-year-old and father-of-five succeeds South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman to lead the bloc of 54 states, who did not seek a second term in office after completing a four-year term.

Kenya was the first to congratulate the newly elected AU chief.

"Kenya congratulates him on a race well won. We pledge to work with him to defend the pan-African agenda of integration for Africa, as well as democracy, sovereignty and prosperity for all of its people," a statement by Kenya's State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said.

Faki is not new to the workings of the AU, having previously served as the body's chair of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council.

Heads of state from the 54-member countries cast their vote in a private ballot.

A candidate needs to secure at least a two-thirds majority, 36 votes, to be declared winner.

The AU was supposed to pick a new leader in July last year, but the election was postponed following three rounds of voting after candidates failed to garner the required number of votes.

More than 50 percent of the member states abstained from the second round of voting last year.

Meanwhile, the AU is expected to vote on Tuesday whether Morocco, the only country in Africa that is not part of the organisation, will be re-admitted into the body.

Rabat withdrew from the union in 1984 to protest against the admission of disputed Western Sahara territories.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Source: Al Jazeera News