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Kenya sets up campaign secretariat for Raila Odinga’s AU Chairmanship bid

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By: Kenya News Agency (KNA)

NAIROBI—The Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Musalia Mudavadi and Former Prime Minister (PM) Raila Odinga have held a joint press briefing to update the nation on Kenya’s candidacy for the African Union (AU) Commission Chairmanship position being sought after by the former premier.

The Prime CS thanked Odinga for the fruitful meeting and progressive discussion they had prior to the press briefing as he, on behalf of the government, endorsed his candidacy to be the AU Chairperson in the elections slated for February 2025.

Mudavadi termed the former PM as a visionary leader who will fire up the AU to greater levels, insisting that as a Pan Africanist, he naturally espouses the ‘Think Africa Above All’ guiding principle of the AU Commission.

Further, the Prime CS maintained that Odinga holds dear the AU’s ambition of being a people-centered organisation, adding that his experience and leadership philosophy aligns with the AU Commission’s values of efficiency, professionalism and respect for diversity.

“We have no doubt the candidate will pursue excellence in line with the continent’s collective aspirations of the Africa we want in 2063 as framed in the AU’s development framework of Agenda 2063,” he reiterated.

Raila Odinga (left) with the former Executive Secretary of the IGAD Mahboub Maalim [file]

The Nation reported on Wednesday that the former IGAD Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim and ex-U.S. ambassador Elkanah Odiambo set to lead Raila Odinga’s bid for African Union chairmanship as Kenya sets up campaign secretariat.

Mudavadi lauded Kenya’s President Dr William Ruto for fully endorsing Odinga’s candidature and extensively energizing Kenya’s foreign policy thus successfully positioning the country as a champion on Africa affairs in the international arena.

“We are doing all this for the good of our people, Kenya’s national interest and the prosperity of our continent,” stated Mudavadi, pointing out that this is the time for eastern Africa to nominate a candidate for the position of AU Commission Chairperson based on the principle of inter-regional rotation with the deadline for the submission for the regional nominations two months away on 6th August 2024, according to the AU elections calendar.

The Prime CS disclosed that the campaigns are led by the state with highly experienced and formidable officers, revealing that the State Department for Foreign Affairs has established a Campaign Secretariat which includes Odinga’s strategy team.

According to Mudavadi, the Secretariat will prepare all the briefs for use by the candidate, develop campaign materials including digital presence and prepare for the public debate to be broadcast live to African citizens six months before the election.

“Currently, the team is coming up with preparatory and application documents together with requisite translations of the candidate’s resume into six AU languages, that is French, English, Kiswahili, Arabic, Portuguese, and Spanish and will be ready for submission to the AU Secretariat by the end of June 2024,” announced Mudavadi.

He voiced that an empirical campaign strategy has been developed which include identifying opportunities, challenges and risks that the candidate faces, adding that the campaign involves outreach programmes to capitals of AU member states, briefing of Kenya missions abroad and engagements with diplomatic corps in Nairobi.

In his remarks, the former PM appreciated huge support and encouragement by many senior government officials and assured the Government that he is making every effort tapping into his experience, relationship and understanding of the continent to win the support of as many nations as he could.

“With committed and proper co-ordination between my team and the government we should be able to clinch the seat,” stressed Odinga, adding that co-ordination and synergy are going to be critical prior to the submission of his application.

He cited the need for efficiency, the need to cut bureaucracy and unveil a well-oiled and flexible joint effort going forward.

Like all campaigns, Odinga noted that plans and demands arise and change suddenly, calling for swift response, and responsibility while understanding the sensitivities of the quest from the national, regional, continental and global dimensions.

Away from the candidacy, Mudavadi advised the AU to be more proactive and strategic in overcoming the persistent challenges that beset it including funding shortages, logistical inadequacies, and the cyclic nature of conflicts.

He observed that the AU continues to grapple with cases of political instabilities and economic intricacies, weak international influence and undue external influence driven by a new cold war in the continent.

Further, the Prime CS highlighted that the African need to focus on dimensions that promote unity and enhance sustainable development for her citizens including infrastructural connectivity, reduction in the cost of doing business in the continent, accelerating the realization of the visa free programme and promoting a common language for Africa.

“We shall promote functional non-alignment that strategically seeks to establish mutually beneficial relationships globally,” vowed Mudavadi, emphasizing that the AU Chairman also holds the seat for Africa on the G20 forum.

He noted that Kenya envisions an AU that drives the continent beyond silencing the guns to achieving positive peace, sustainable peace and security for collective prosperity through its long experience of supporting the AU and regional bodies as well as bilateral engagements to foster peace and security both regionally and globally.

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