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ODM guru Phil Etale questions government support for Raila’s AU candidature

By Wangu Kanuri February 17th, 2024 2 min read

Philip Etale, the Communications Director at the opposition’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party, has raised questions about the enthusiasm shown by government-aligned politicians over Raila Odinga’s candidacy for the chairmanship of the African Union Commission.

In a post on X, Etale wondered whether Mr Odinga’s presidential candidature in the 2027 polls was quite a threat for them to warrant such excitement.

The comments came after Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale put up a social media poll on who would contest against President William Ruto in the 2027 elections in the absence of Mr Odinga.

Kenyans were asked to choose between opposition leaders Kalonzo Musyoka, Martha Karua, and Wycliffe Oparanya.

“But why is it that 80% of the people excited about @RailaOdinga expressing interest in the AU top job are Kenya Kwanza and their sympathizers? Eish!!! This means Baba is a threat to them in 2027!!! Yeah, my thinking,” he wrote.

Mr Odinga announced his candidacy for the chairperson position of the continental body at his Nairobi residence accompanied by AU special envoy and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr Odinga said his decision was arrived at after wide consultations.

He said: “I have been consulting widely among friends, and the general here (Mr Obasanjo) is one of my closest friends on the continent. I intimated to him that if there should be interest, I will be keen to serve the continent of Africa, because as a pan-Africanist, I believe strongly that Africa is playing in the league it should not play. Africa deserves better.”

The AUC’s chairperson has a four-year term, renewable once. Election is by secret ballot and a two-thirds majority of member states eligible to vote. Should Mr Odinga succeed in his quest for the AUC chairmanship, his tenure will expire in 2028, a year after the next General Election. But analysts say he can still opt to resign to run for the presidency in 2027.

The current AUC chairperson is Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chad’s former foreign minister, who was elected in January 2017 and re-elected in February 2021. His term as chairperson ends in February 2025. Candidates for the office of the chairperson and his /her deputy are often circulated to Member States at least three months before the election.

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