April 30th 2017

Top Stories / National

Kenya's Amina Momamed in final push with AU election only hours away

"There is still no unanimously accepted candidate but I believe Ms Mohamed is the front-runner. But I have noted, Moussa Faki of Chad made a prominent appearance at Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma's Birthday bash at her official residence," said Kenyan journalist Kennedy Abwao.

By John Onyandojonyando@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 30 Jan 2017 12:48 EAT

Ms Mohamed.

Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed will know her fate in less than five hours as African heads of state are expected to vote for the African Union Commission chairperson between 3.30pm and 6pm in Ethiopia's capital this afternoon. Ms Mohamed, who has been in Addis Ababa for nearly a week, having arrived for the ministerial conference, was in a fiesty mood this morning as she shuttled between various countries' delegations soliciting for votes in a last minute campaign effort.

While the vote is nominally done by presidents, delegations horse-trade and agree on line-ups well in advance of actual voting. The chairmanship is the most important AUC post, but countries not going for that position can haggle for the vice chairmanship and other commission seats, making the election a closely watched affair even among delegations not directly staking for the chairmanship.

Our correspondent indicates that Ms Mohamed has come under scrutiny from some delegations for her closeness to President Uhuru Kenyatta, an anti-ICC champion without an enviable leadership record. "The minister is not a heavyweight in diplomatic terms, and if we judged her solely by her associations we would be alarmed at the inimical contributions she would make towards Africa's democratisation," said one source from West Africa.

Some delegations have also expressed concern that Kenya is seeking the chairmanship when its citizen, Erastus Mwencha, has just finished two terms as vice chairman. Others say that with the outgoing chairperson being a female, a man would better take over. However, the strong support Ms Mohamed enjoys the East Africa bloc is a plus in her favour.

"There is still no unanimously accepted candidate but I believe Ms Mohamed is the front-runner. But I have noted, Moussa Faki of Chad made a prominent appearance at Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma's Birthday bash at her official residence," Kenyan journalist Kennedy Abwao, who works for the Pan Africa Press Agency, told the Kenya Free Press from Addis Ababa.

Mr Abwao, who has followed the election closely, said that ECOWAS, the West African regional bloc, last night leaders endorsed Prof. Bathily Abdoulaye of Senegal, with only Niger dissenting, in support of the Chad candidate Moussa Faki Mahamat. 

According to Mr Abwao, Prof. Abdoulaye was seen earlier to take a hit from the recently political deadlock in The Gambia, where Senegal was allegedly accused of taking credit for all the ECOWAS initiatives.

He said Ms Mohamed will benefit from the support of Ghana, which is pushing for its own citizen to become deputy chairperson, and hence won't support another West African. He also says that Nigeria plans to vote for Prof. Abdoulaye in the first round but turn to Ms Mohamed if the vote goes to a second round.

The Summit was about to begin opening session by the time this article was being developed.

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