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What Raila Odinga needs to do to win the African Union Commission Chairmanship

By Winnie Mabel February 15th, 2024 2 min read

Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Amollo Odinga on February 15, 2024, announced his candidature for the African Union Commission Chairmanship position.

Speaking at a press briefing in the company of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr Odinga said after consulting widely with friends, he was keen to serve the continent of Africa.

“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.

But what does it take for one to clinch the African Union Commission Chairmanship?

According to the AU’s official website, the Chairman is an elected official. He/ She reports to the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government as well as the AU Executive Council.

“The Chairperson of the African Union Commission is the Chief Executive Officer, legal representative of the AU and the Commission’s Chief Accounting Officer. The Chairperson of the Commission is elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once. The Chairperson’s functions, include: overall responsibility for the Commission’s administration and finances; Promoting and popularizing the AU’s objectives and enhancing its performance; Consulting and coordinating with key stakeholders like Member States, Development Partners, RECs, etc; Appointing and managing Commission staff; Acting as a depository for all AU and OAU treaties and legal instruments,” reads the job description role of the website.

To get this position, a candidate must have a Master’s degree in Law, International Relations, Economics, Diplomacy, Management, Business Administration, Political Science, Social Sciences or closely related field from a recognized institution. Additionally, they must have a PhD in Law, International Relations, Diplomacy, Management, Business Administration, Political Science, Social Sciences, or a closely related field from a recognized institution is an added advantage.

The candidate must also have not less than twenty (20) years of relevant professional and international experience with at least ten (10) years served in progressively senior leadership role(s) preferably in an intergovernmental organization or national government/public service, international or regional institution.

This office is held for four years, renewable only once.

To get elected as Chairperson, a candidate is selected by the AU Assembly following consultations/lobbying with member states.

Election is by secret ballot and a two-thirds majority of Member States eligible to vote.

Current AU chairman Moussa Faki will not contest in the next elections slated for February 2025.

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