Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed addresses the media on June 25, 2016 in Nairobi about the refugee situation. The government is still lobbying for her to become the next AU chair. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Guinea’s Condé main challenger in CS Amina’s race for AU job
The emergence of Guinean President Alpha Condé as the possible next chairman of the African Union Assembly has thrown a new twist in the upcoming AU elections.
President Condé is now in pole position to secure the seat, after Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, who had been tipped to replace Idriss Déby of Chad, reportedly pulled out in favour of Guinea since Niger shares a border with Chad.
It means that countries, including Kenya, have to do further trade-offs to be assured of victory for their candidates when the polls open on Monday.
By norm, no region should produce the assembly chair, AU Commission chair and deputy at the same time.
The African Union Summit opened Thursday in Addis Ababa with a planning meeting of foreign ministers, normally known as the AU Executive Council, ahead of the elections.
But even as outgoing AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma called for unity ahead of the annual conference, this meeting offered contenders a chance to keep lobbying for their candidates.
“Whatever we do at this summit we must ensure that we preserve the precious and principled unity of this continent and our union,” the South African national, who has decided not to defend her seat, said.
Though the chairman of the Assembly is largely a ceremonial figure, the appointment affects who becomes the next chair of the AU Commission (AUC).
Kenya had lobbied Mr Condé, President of Guinea since 2010, to support its candidate, Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed, but his imminent confirmation as the next leader of the AU debates means Guinea’s vote depends on other interests.
For example, Senegal and Guinea are in the same region and belong to the Ecowas bloc.
But the two countries have not been in good terms recently, especially since Mr Condé was a strong ally of former Gambian despot Yahya Jammeh.
The other tradition is that a region that produces the Assembly chairman on the election year for the AUC has not been victorious in producing the chairperson of the African Union Commission.
This means that once the Assembly chairperson is elected, the region that produces the office bearer may drop bids for the chair of the AUC and make compromises with other regions.
The continental body will also be electing eight commissioners to head various AU departments.
Each region is allowed to nominate two candidates for the eight commissioners. One of the nominees must be a woman.
A region that elects the chairperson or their deputy only gets one slot each for the commissioners.
The Nation has learnt that Kenya embarked on a lobbying campaign to convince other countries in the region to drop conflicting candidates in her favour.
Djibouti had nominated Interior Minister Yacin Elmi Bouh to be deputy AUC. The Horn of Africa country had also nominated Hawa Ahmed Youssouf to be commissioner for Political Affairs. Also Kenya instructed its nominee for commissioner for Energy, current Igad Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim, to go slow on his campaigns.
The procedure is such that a win for Ms Mohamed automatically rules out Mr Bouh, as one region cannot have chair and deputy at the same time. Last week, Kenya reached a tentative deal to have Djibouti support Kenya as Nairobi roots for Ms Youssouf.
This could also settle another deal: Kenya had offered to support Ghana’s Thomas Kwesi Quartey for deputy should Accra support Ms Mohamed.
Source: Daily Nation