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Raila’s 2016 call for Somaliland’s independence comes to bite him as Somalia intensifies AU bid



By: Hassan Yarrow

Somalia’s Foreign Ministry has announced an elaborate bid to secure the chairmanship of the African Union Commission (AUC) for the first time in over four decades.

Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, Somalia foreign affairs minister, announced the government’s support for Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adan, the ex-Foreign Affairs Minister of Somalia.

In 2012, Fawzia became the first woman to be appointed foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Somalia.

In a competitive environment, Fiqi highlighted the challenge posed by Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, accusing him of previously supporting the “fragmentation of Somalia.”

Raila is Kenya’s longest opposition leader, and has severally called for the independence of Somaliland with Hargeisa as its capital.

In 2016, while speaking at Chatham House in London, Raila called on the international community to recognise Somaliland as an independent state.

” I am a strong supporter of the full recognition of Somaliland. I think there is a very strong case,” he said said during a question and answer session at the forum.

In a response, Somalia condemned the remarks, saying it “questions the territorial integrity of Somalia.”

Fiqi stressed the importance of Somalia’s  unity and called for support behind Fawzia’s candidacy. Somalia, a founding member of the African Union (AU), made a failed attempt at the position in the 1970s.

Somalia’s renewed bid comes amidst unconfirmed reports of ongoing diplomatic negotiations, with Kenya urging Somalia to withdraw its nomination in favor of Odinga, who is seeking the endorsement of the East African Community (EAC).

Despite Kenya’s diplomatic efforts, Somalia enjoys extensive regional support with almost 30 African nations within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) backing Fawzia’s candidacy. This alliance could prove pivotal as the AUC elections approach.

Kenya has fronted Raila Odinga to be the next chairperson of the AU Commission.

A machinery is being put in place by the Ruto administration to campaign for the former Prime minister in his quest for the continental assignment.

Raila announced his candidature for the position on February 15 and has received support from across the country’s political divide, as well as support from at least seven heads of state from the Eastern Africa region.

The elections are scheduled to take place in February 2025 at the 38th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The bid for the AU chairmanship aligns with the East African region’s designated role in nominating candidates, ensuring regional rotation and representation.

Fawzia Yusuf, with her extensive diplomatic background and a platform focused on pan-African unity and sustainable development, represents a transformative figure in Somali politics and signifies the nation’s renewed global engagement.

Meanwhile, Djibouti has also entered the competition by nominating seasoned diplomat, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf as its candidate, further intensifying the regional rivalry.

As the election date draws nearer, the political dynamics within the East African bloc are expected to play a crucial role in shaping the leadership of the African Union. This presents a critical juncture for regional cooperation and development.


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