• April 24, 2024
  • Last Update April 23, 2024 10:40 PM
  • Nairobi

Raila’s AUC bid: The process of electing new chairperson


By Peter Ochieng

Azimio La Umoja One Kenya leader, Raila Odinga is firmly in the race to succeed Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat as the next African Union Commission (AUC) chairman.

Odinga declared his bid in February, and has already been endorsed by one of AU’s eminent persons, in the frame of former Nigeria President Olusegon Obasanjo.

Obasanjo, while endorsing his friend in Nairobi said Odinga ticks all the relevant boxes in as far as becoming the next AUC chairman is concerned, ahead of elections in early 2025.

“I have no doubt that my friend who is standing next to me is the right person to take over the mantle. If the East African Community (EAC) region backs him, I believe the rest of the continent will support him,” said the former Head of State.

Obasanjo said that upon Faki’s completion of his second term in office, his or her successor should be someone who has previously served as Head of State or government as President or Prime Minister.

Odinga served as Kenya’s Prime Minister from 2008 to 2013 under the coalition government, headed by former President, the late Mwai Kibaki.

Raila Odinga has previously served as AU special envoy for infrastructure development in Africa from 2018 to 2023, a position he says, accorded him the much needed exposure and experience to occupy the AUC position.

“That position gave me a good advantage to be able to learn about each and every African country, and I believe that working with all these countries, we can be able to emancipate Africa,” he said, while declaring his bid.

The African Union Commission is the AU’s secretariat and undertakes the day to day activities of the Union. It is based in Ethiopia’s Capital, Addis Ababa. Roles of the AUC chairperson include representing the AU and defending its interests under the guidance of and as mandated by the Assembly, and the Executive Council, initiating proposals to be submitted to the AU’s organs as well as implementing decisions taken by them, managing the AU budget and resources, and drafting AU common positions and coordinating member states in international negotiations.

The AUC is composed of the chairperson, deputy chairperson, eight commissioners and the staff. AUC chairperson’s seat attracts a lot of interest and lobbying because the holder of the position is the Chief Executive Officer, legal representative and the Commission’s Chief Accounting Officer.

What then does Odinga need to be elected the next AUC chairperson? For starters, he is not the first Kenyan to declare his bid for the position. Former education and sports Cabinet Secretary (CS) Amina Mohamed contested for the seat, and lost to the current office holder.

Odinga, like any other candidate interested in the position will provide his curriculum vitae, along with a vision statement outlining how he intends to address the most pressing issues facing the AU, and participate in a televised debate which shall be broadcasted live to African citizens.

Through the debate, the ODM party leader will have to present his vision and ideas on the implementation of the Agenda 2063.

Agenda 2063 refers to AU’s vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena by 2063.

Like any other candidate, Odinga must meet the minimum academic qualification set by the AU, including having a Master’s degree in a range of academic field. They include law, international relations, economics, diplomacy, management, business administration, and political science.

There are fears that Odinga does not have a Master’s degree, with allegations doing rounds on social media that he never finished standard six. However, Odinga probably knows something other Kenyans don’t know. If not so, one would ask why he declared his bid, knowing that he does not qualify?

After submitting papers, the applicants will then be submitted to a vetting process, spearheaded by AU eminent persons, with a view of coming up with a shortlist. The shortlisted candidates will then be subjected to a secret ballot. A candidate has to garner a two-thirds majority to be declared the winner.

If a straight forward winner is not gotten in the first round, voting will go until a winner is determined, as was the case in 2017. Faki beat Mohamed after four rounds of voting.

The AUC chair is elected on a four term, renewed once. The next AUC chair will be elected between January and February, 2025.

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