Jean  Ping

Jean Ping

African Union Chairman and Gabon's Foreign Affairs Minister

Date of Birth: November 1942
Place of Birth: Omboué, Gabon

The career of Gabon’s consummate diplomat owes its success less to the impact he made as President of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2004-05 than his accomplishments as head of cabinet to the country’s veteran President, El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba in 1984-90. 

Ping started off his career at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1972, before becoming Gabon’s Ambassador to the institution from 1978 to 1984.  He moved on to President Omar Bongo’s cabinet, jumping from one ministerial office to another, with stints at Information, Finance, Mines, and Foreign Affairs, before settling at the latter post in 1999. 

Ping has built up strong diplomatic credentials across Africa and won the Chairmanship of the African Union Commission on 1 February 2008 with 31 of 46 votes in a single round of voting. A popular choice in Central, Western and North Africa, he lacked such support in Southern Africa, where South Africa is said to have wanted a candidate of greater substance. Ping faces a hard task: reforming an AU plagued by disfunction and unable to focus on internal reform because of relentless crises in a host of countries, headed by Sudan, Somalia and Chad. He says that his motto there will be 'less talk, more work'.

Born in November 1942 to a Chinese father and a Gabonese mother in Omboué, Gabon, Ping’s attachment to China is more nuanced than his nickname of ‘Mao’. As Foreign Minister since 1999, he has led Gabon’s campaign to open up trade with non-traditional partners including China, Brazil and South Africa. Ping is uncritical of the Chinese, who signed a controversial US$3 billion iron ore-backed deal for the development of the Bélinga deposit in northeastern Gabon in 2006, saying: ‘With China, everything is simple.  She gives us debt forgiveness or long-term loans without interest or conditions.’

As a former President of the Organisation of Oil Producing Exporting Countries in 1993 and along with all his other jobs, Ping has a reputation as a globetrotter. He has also accompanied Bongo in his mediation efforts to São Tomé, Chad, Central African Republic and Congo-Kinshasa. According to local observers, Ping prefers to avoid Gabon’s messy local politicking and the ruling Parti Démocratique Gabonais, as he has the ear of the President himself. Ping has two children with the President’s daughter and current head of the presidential Cabinet, Pascaline Bongo, and is married to an Italo-Ivorian, Jeanne-Thérèse.

Displaying 1-10 out of 38 results.

Vol 55 N0 18


Electioneering begins

Meanwhile, the oppositionist and former African Union Commission Chairman, Jean Ping, faces criticism that he does not offer a real alternative to the ruling Parti démocratique gabonais (PDG) because he was a top political baron under the four-decade 'big man' rule by the late President Omar Bongo Ondimba (AC Vol 55 No 4, Ping's pop at Ali)...

Vol 55 N0 4


Ping's pop at Ali

The former Chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, has broken his studied silence on Gabon’s domestic politics...

Vol 54 N0 3


The power of the south

Certainly, she has tried hard to reconcile the Francophone supporters of Gabon’s Jean Ping – against whom she won a hard-fought election victory in July – to the South African leadership of the organisation...

Vol 53 N0 20


Mali a l’Amisom

Paris is pushing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint Jean Ping, outgoing Chairman of the African Union Commission, as his Special Envoy for the Sahel region, a new position that could turn into head of an Amisom-type presence in Mali...

Vol 53 N0 19


Zuma hits back as mining unrest spreads

Even his ex-wife, the veteran politician Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, took a swipe at him at her farewell as Home Affairs Minister, en route to Addis Ababa to take over the chair of the African Union Commission from Gabon’s Jean Ping (AC Vol 52 No 15, Dlamini-Zuma takes charge)...

Vol 53 N0 17


Rail to the chief

She defeated the incumbent, Gabon’s Jean Ping, prompting criticism that South Africa had used its position as a leading financial contributor to control the choice of the AU’s top job (See A diplomatic coup in Addis)...

Vol 53 N0 16


Obsequies and summitry

From further afield, Gabon's Jean Ping (who chairs the AU Commission until his successor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma takes over in October) are to be joined by Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Kenya's Premier Raila Odinga...

Vol 53 N0 15


Dlamini-Zuma takes charge

After a fairly bitter election campaign, senior officials are urging the defeated candidate and incumbent, Gabon’s Jean Ping, to work for a smooth handover...

Vol 53 N0 15


A diplomatic coup in Addis

Their view was that South Africa’s challenger, Nkosazani Dlamini-Zuma, would have enough votes to prevent the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon, from winning the necessary two-thirds victory but could not win herself...

Vol 53 N0 11


Entente absente

Jacob Zuma rejected Gabon’s proposal that both candidates – Jean Ping, the incumbent and Libreville’s candidate, and South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – withdraw...

Displaying 1-10 out of 38 results.