Mudavadi rallies diplomats to back Raila for AUC chairperson’s position

Raila Odinga

 Azimio leader Raila Odinga speaks during the 2nd Homa Bay International Investment Conference.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Mr Mudavadi said Kenya is determined to strengthen its position within the Commission.
  • Mr Odinga has already offered himself for the position and has been speaking to African leaders.

Kenya has formally pitched Opposition leader Raila Odinga to peers, seeking to have him elected the next African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson.

In a briefing to diplomats representing African countries in Nairobi, Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Musalia Mudavadi, asked the countries to support Mr Odinga.

He said Nairobi will use its leadership at the AUC to foster ties among Africa counties, including in trade and investments.

Mr Mudavadi said Kenya is determined to strengthen its position within the Commission, adding that the country is committed to building a more interconnected and prosperous Africa.

It was the first formal setting for Nairobi to table Mr Odinga’s name, even though Mr Mudavadi had already publicly spoken about it at events during the recent Africa Union Summit in Addis Ababa last month.

Mr Odinga has already offered himself for the position and has been speaking to African leaders directly or indirectly, in the recent months, seeking support.

The next AUC elections are due in February next year and the winner will replace Chadian diplomat Moussa Faki Mahamat who is completing his two terms and is ineligible to run.

Eligible countries

Under the 2018 reforms, AU Commission chairpersons, their deputies and six commissioners are to be elected in a rotational format, which means Eastern Africa will be the next supplier of the chairperson.

Raila: AU, here I am

However, at last month’s summit, a proposal was tabled to prevent countries that have produced chairpersons or deputies before to be barred from running unless all eligible countries in their region have had a chance too. That proposal is yet to be approved by the Assembly and Mr Odinga may be waiting for the outcome of the deliberations to know if he will be eligible after all. Kenya’s Erastus Mwencha was the Deputy Commission Chairperson between 2008 and 2016

“Africa forms the core of Kenya’s foreign policy and we must ensure we have mutual coexistence and cooperation among African nations,” he told the members of the African diplomatic corps in Nairobi.

Mr Mudavadi said Kenya was acting on pledges to expand relations with African peers, citing the removal of visa requirements for all countries beginning this year as one way Nairobi is opening up for trade with African countries. Visitors, however, have to pay a fee of $30 for every trip they make to Nairobi, by applying on an online portal.

Kenya has since exempted Ethiopia, Comoros, South Africa and Congo-Brazzaville from paying the fee and all East African Community member states can arrive without applying for the registration known as Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA).

"I am aware that the implementation of the visa-free regime has its teething challenges but I assure Your Excellencies that we are aware of these concerns which continue to be addressed and soon we will have flawless regime," Mudavadi said.