News The African Way

Kenya’s Amina Mohammed Eyes AU Chair Seat

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday met with his Namibian counterpart Hage Geingob as Kenya intensified the final lap of lobbying ahead of African Union elections today [Monday].

The President’s meeting on the sidelines of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa was meant to discuss “bilateral issues”, according to his team.

But at the back of his mind is the imminent elections in which Kenya’s Foreign Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed is seeking to become the chairperson of the AU.

Since her nomination, President Kenyatta has sent special envoys to 53 countries across the continent including Namibia.

But the lobbying at the summit is key because these countries belong to separate regional blocs which had endorsed different candidates.

Namibia, for example, belongs to the Southern Africa bloc, SADC.

In September, the 15-member organisation endorsed Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

Ms Mohamed is also competing with candidates from Equitorial Guinea, Chad and Senegal.

Ms Mohamed herself gathered foreign ministers from 12 countries in the eastern Africa region seeking their final support.

“The eastern Africa ministers’ meeting agreed to stand in solidarity and support their own candidates and reach out to other countries for support,” she said.

Djibouti, Sudan and Burundi are some of the countries from the region which have fronted candidates for different posts.

Ms Mohamed also met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry for a “consultative meeting”.

Egypt, alongside South Africa, Nigeria and Ethiopia are some of the influential countries on the continent because of their economic power, military might and population size.

So high is the focus on this election that a determination by the AU to have its members leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) in masses lost its steam after influential countries on the continent prioritised the poll instead.

A top Kenyan diplomat told the Nation in confidence that the ICC matter has taken a back seat because “there are other pressing needs at the moment”.
“It is not important for now and it can be very divisive particularly at this time of elections,” the official said.

And the fear is that donors, most of whom finance the AU, may lobby against candidates who criticise the court in public.

This story first appeared on Daily Nation, under the title ‘CS Amina Mohamed ready for AU elections Monday’

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