Inside State's big plan for Raila Odinga's bid for AU chairmanship

Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: File | Nairobi Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Raila Odinga’s candidacy for AUC job to be submitted by April 15.
  • Mr Odinga’s campaign team has developed a three-pronged campaign timeline.

The government is developing a fully fledged campaign secretariat and a comprehensive budget to support Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s bid for the chairmanship of the African Union Commission (AUC), ahead of the official submission of his candidacy by April 15.

Campaigns for such high-level international positions often involve significant investment in diplomacy, travel, promotional activities and lobbying.

Data that had been submitted to Parliament showed that Sh437,776, 982 was spent in the campaigns, exceeding the set confidential expenditure by Sh52,095,299.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earmarked Sh385,681,683 for expenditure linked to the campaigns.

The Nation has established that the secretariat being established by the government and Mr Odinga’s key strategists to steer his campaigns will form the nerve centre for his operations with the involvement of key actors, including the presidency, the candidate and his team, Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, as well as the Eastern Africa Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Korir Sing’oei confirmed plans for the establishment of a campaign secretariat and set aside a budget for the country's AUC quest.

When asked whether the government was taking that route, he responded by saying "absolutely."

Mr Odinga’s campaign team has developed three-pronged campaign timeline encompassing ‘short term, medium and the grand strategy,’ ahead of the February 2025 elections.

Ruto: EA presidents have agreed to support Raila for AUC job

Former Kenyan ambassador to the United States Mr Elkanah Odembo, who is one of Mr Odinga’s strategists working with the government to steer his campaigns, on Sunday confirmed that “a fully fledged secretariat is being established and a comprehensive budget being developed.”

He did not immediately reveal the budget for the campaigns, saying; “secretariat and budget are subjects of meetings scheduled for this week.”

The former envoy explained that the three-pronged campaign approach that has been developed includes short term period of between four to six weeks whose goal is to “solicit the support of all the 16 Heads of State and Governments in the Eastern Africa region.”

“The goal of the medium-term period of between July and August 2024 is to secure the support and endorsement of the majority of Heads of State and Governments of the Southern, Western, Northern, and Central Africa regions,” Mr Odembo told the Nation in an interview.

The grand strategy, which he noted is the overall winning plan, “involves the presidency contacting individual Heads of State and Governments to solicit support for Kenya and the candidate visiting each Heads of State and Governments to secure their blessings.”

President William Ruto, Mr Odinga and senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials led by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and PS Sing’oei has been burning the midnight oil, meeting regional presidents to push Kenya’s case.

Raila: AU, here I am

“Our overall goal is to win the elections in February 2025, by securing in the first round, the two-thirds of the member States eligible to vote,” Mr Odembo said.

He emphasized that the African Union Executive Council's unanimous decision, confirming it was Eastern Africa's turn to nominate the next chairperson of the AUC, first cleared Mr Odinga's path for the top regional post.

“This decision removed the first major hurdle to the RAO campaign and, marked the beginning of the RAO campaign proper. The hard work now begins,” added Mr Odembo.

He stated that the official submission of Mr Odinga’s candidacy to the Office of the Legal Counsel of the AU will be made by April 15.

Following the AU Executive Council’s resolutions, Mr Mudavadi said that; “effectively, there are no more technical or legal hurdles preventing Kenya from submitting its candidate."

The campaign team, Mr Odembo noted, is also conducting an early status check of AU members ‘likely to be early supporters.’