Nairobi News


Ruto backs Raila’s AU Commission seat, Mudavadi tasked with lobbying

By Winnie Mabel February 17th, 2024 2 min read

Kenya’s President William Ruto, a fierce opponent of opposition leader Raila Odinga, is now backing his bid for the African Union Commission Charimanship.

In a February 16, 2024, communique from the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary and CS for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Musalia Mudavadi, it was agreed upon that Kenya will lobby for East Africa’s turn to field the next African Union Chair.

“Kenya and East Africa have the first opportunity to produce the next chair of the African Union Commission. The Central, Southern and Western Africa regions have had their share since 2002, so it is now time for the Eastern and Northern regions. Under the rotational rules, Eastern Africa has the first opportunity when the term of the current chair expires end of this year,” said PCS Mudavadi.

This support comes hours after Raila Odinga announced his candidature for the AUC Chairmanship earlier this week in the company of former Nigeria president Olusegun Obasanjo.

I believe Africa deserves better. Africa is the richest continent in terms of minerals yet its the poorest. This can be reversed if we marshal our resources. I have served as African Union High Representative for infrastructure and it gave me advantage to learn about each African country. I believe working together with these countries, we will be able to emancipate Africa. I offer myself to serve this continent. I am ready to go for the Chairmanship of the African Union,” said Mr Odinga in part.

Yesterday, Raila’s Communication Director in the Orange Democratic Movement opposition party, Mr Philip Etale, however, questioned the government’s motive in backing Raila’s bid considering the bitter politics between them,

“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,” said Mr Etale.

His sentiments came after members of Kenya Kwanza government began questioning who would face off with President Ruto for the presidency in 2027 considering Raila continues to be a favorite.

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.

In response to potential queries about his presidential ambitions, while on tour in Mombasa County earlier this week, Raila pre-empted the conversation by saying it will be his wife, Mama Ida Odinga, who decides whether he will vie in 2027.

“If Mama Ida says Baba (as he fondly referred to by his followers) is now tired and cannot proceed, that will be okay. I will pave the way for others,” said Raila.

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