South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was inaugurated as the chief of the African Union on Monday, becoming the first woman to ever fill the position.
Dlamini-Zuma most recently served as South Africa's minister of home affairs, and had also served as the minister of foreign affairs, according to the Associated Press.
The outgoing chair, Jean Ping, presented the gavel to Dlamini-Zuma during a ceremony at union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said the AP. Ping served as chief from 2008 onwards.
Ping was defeated in a close vote by Dlamini-Zuma in July, according to Voice of America.
In her acceptance speech, Dlamini-Zuma vowed to address the conflict in Mali and the resurgence of Islamist extremists in the Sahel, according to Agence France Presse.
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"We will ... spare no efforts to try and resolve conflicts in Mali and the Sahelian region, the crisis that has the potential to spread across the region and even the continent," she said.
She added, "In the light of the resurgence of renewed conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, we will support all efforts to bring about peace and stability in the DRC and the Great Lakes region."
Dlamini-Zuma has earned praise for her work in desegregating South Africa's health care system, but critics have said her position on anti-retroviral drugs hurt the fight against AIDS in South Africa, according to VOA.
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