Raila Odinga: Why I am ready for AU job

Leader of Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya Coalition Party Raila Odinga during an Interview with the Standard Media Group Journalists at his Karen residence in Nairobi on February 28, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Azimio leader Raila Odinga has declared his intention to vie for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, promising to bring social and economic change to the continent if elected.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi on Thursday, Raila said he was ready to offer his services to the leadership of Africa, having gained experience and networks as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

“I have served the AU in the capacity of Infrastructure High Representative and the position gave me a good advantage to be able to learn about each and every country, what they have, and their comparative advantages. I believe working together with all these countries we can be able to transform Africa,” he said.

“I am inclined to accept the challenge. The leadership of Africa is worth my services. I am ready and offer myself to be of service to the continent,” he added.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said Raila was a viable candidate for the AUC top job.

“I have no doubt that my friend who is standing next to me (Odinga) is the right person to take over the mantle. If the East African Community (EAC) region backs him, I believe the rest of the continent will support him,” Obasanjo said.

The Azimio leader is seeking to replace Moussa Faki of Chad as the new AUC chairperson, who is also the commission’s chief executive officer and legal representative of the AU.

The election is expected to take place in July this year.

Raila’s bid comes amid reports that President William Ruto is fronting him for the continental job in a deal that could tilt the political landscape and complicate the 2027 presidential election matrix.

Ruto’s move would radically shift the country’s political landscape as it would almost amount to “a handshake.”

It would also remove Raila from the 2027 presidential race, triggering fresh realignments.

However, Raila did not comment on Ruto’s alleged endorsement, saying he was focused on his continental agenda.

The AU Commission chair elevates the office holder to a near head of state.

The office holder is a key player in major international happenings, including elections, conflicts, and development, not only in Africa but globally.

Raila served as AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa between 2018 and February 2023, when his term ended controversially.

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