Kenya has nominated Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador Amina Mohammed, to be the next head of the African Union. The nomination of the vastly experienced CS promises to heat up the January 2017 contest for the continent’s top diplomat.
“I see that Amina is doing well. We have nominated her to be the AU chairperson,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In an off the cuff remark, President Kenyatta surprise revelations comments expressed Kenya’s interest in the African Union’s top seat.
The AU elections held in July this year failed to produce a winner after none of the four candidates secured a two-thirds majority required to settle the contest.
Foreign Affairs Ministers Agapito Mba Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea and Abdoulaye Bathily of Senegal and Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi made it to the last round, while Uganda’s former Vice President, Specisoza Kazibwe, was knocked out in the first round with 11 votes.
The term of South African Nkosazana Zuma, who is the current chair, expires in January.
The African Union will release the full list of nominees before October 14 after which heavy lobbying is expected among the member states.
The chairperson will be critical in marshaling member states to deliver on the development agenda, shaping the continental economic and trade, political and security agenda as well as rallying the continent to adopt common standpoints on global issues and its relations with international bodies such as the UN and the ICC.
Critics of the AU say the chair of the commission is largely a figurehead. But others believe the position is as influential as its wielder
Ms Mohammed rose through the ranks in Kenya’s diplomatic service from that of a legal officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the highest level of Ambassador/Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kenya to the UN in Geneva.
In her time as Foreign Minister, Kenya has hosted a number of global high level events including the WTO 10 Ministerial Conference, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) among others.
Given her vast international experience, she may be the strongest candidate yet to champion Africa’s voice on the global arena.