Raila takes campaign for top AUC post to Francophone nations

Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga during a press briefing in Nairobi on March 8, 2024.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has set his sights on West African nations with a focus on the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the Francophone (French-speaking) countries as the State prepares to submit his candidacy for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairmanship this week.

Mr Odinga’s strategist, Mr Elkanah Odembo, who is a former ambassador to the United States of America told Nation on Sunday that the former premier held talks with Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu — the chairman of the Ecowas Authority of Heads of States and Government in South Africa last week.

Describing Mr Tinubu as a key influencer in Ecowas, Mr Odembo said the Nigerian Head of State gave Mr Odinga his assurance, and invited him for a visit for further talks.

Mr Odembo pointed out that while in South Africa for the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Odinga also held talks with other key leaders who were positive about his bid.

“In South Africa, while attending the inauguration of Mr Ramaphosa, candidate RAO (Mr Odinga) held talks with Presidents Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo Brazzaville), Felix Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of Congo), Samia Suluhu (Tanzania), Bola Tinubu (Nigeria), and Joao Laurenco (Angola).

“All gave him assurances and extended an invitation for Mr Odinga to visit them. These invitations are of particular importance since Mr Nguesso is the defacto Dean of Francophonie, and Mr Tinubu is a key influencer in Ecowas,” Mr Odembo told Nation.

Mr Odinga is facing Seychelles’ former Vice President Vincent Meriton, Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahmoud Youssouf and ex-Somalia Foreign Minister Fawzia Yusuf in the February next year’s poll. Mr Youssouf is said to have an upper hand in the Francophone nations.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, who is also the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, had announced that Kenya will submit Mr Odinga’s AUC candidacy bid by June 30.