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I understand challenges our continent is facing, Amina says ahead of vote

By Roselyn Obala | January 30th 2017
Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. (Photo:Maxwell Agwanda/Standard)

1) What do you think are your chances of winning the position of chairperson of the African Union Commission?

We have run a rigorous and focused campaign and what remains now is for the heads of state and government to make a determination.

2) You have an opponent from Chad. What is your game plan?

After the campaigns, we are now talking to our friends and supporters and we hope everything will turn out well.

3) What will you prioritise if you get job?

If elected, I will work with African governments, AUC commissioners, AU organs, institutions, the civil society, the people and our partners to:

(i) Work towards to the realisation of Africa’s Agenda 2063 by supporting its implementation by member states. We will focus on actualising the First Ten Year Implementation Plan.

(ii) Pursue sustainable ways of financing the AUC and its programmes and ensure optimum use of resources by encouraging national alignment to development policies by governments to the agenda.

(iii) Foster strategic partnerships for Africa’s development.

(iv) Strengthen synergy between and among development institutions such as: The Permanent Representative Committee (PRC), African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), African commissions, New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), Pan African Parliament, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), African courts, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), to encourage proper use of resources while avoiding unnecessary competition. This will encourage better working relations between these institutions and maximisation of resources.

(v) Work with governments to enact laws and promote policies that enable youth, women and marginalised communities to participate in development activities and decision-making.

(vi) Boost intra-African trade by working with governments to develop relevant mechanisms to speed up ratification of the various protocols necessary to actualise free movement of people and information in each of the RECs. Support infrastructure development by creating connections through land, air and sea to maximize the continent’s potentials as per the last Summit decisions.

(vii) Secure stability by supporting the work of organisations engaged in finding lasting peace and security.

(viii) Enhance democracy, good governance and the rule of law by making the commission a platform of driving political integration. Strengthening electoral systems and institutions in Africa while ensuring justice for all and respect for human rights.

(ix) Increase the role of Africans in the diaspora in implementing Agenda 2063 while repositioning the continent as a strong and influential global player.

4) How different will your tenure be?

The AU has had its share of challenges. That has however not dampened the spirit of our unity and shared vision of prosperity. Challenges have enabled us to self-evaluate and discover areas of improvement. The people are also committed to out unity more than ever before. This is an opportunity, to tap into our collective goodwill to strengthen and deepen our unity.

As a continent, we evaluated the strides made over the past half century, recognised the gaps and together, put in place a vision to guide our engagement for the next 50 years. Agenda 2063 which is our road-map to achieving “The Africa We Want” is a testament that we are aware of our journey and our desired destination. So my role, if elected, will be to faithfully implement Agenda 2063. But this will require efforts of the entire continent, including those in diaspora.

5) How will you handle hostility by Africa against the ICC?

The issue of ICC is better dealt with by countries. AU should concentrate on engaging and encouraging local institutions to grow and help the continent achieve its goals of just society.

6) What made you accept the nomination?

In the course my career which spans over three decades, I have worked with many colleagues from the continent on several issues including mega projects on infrastructure, international and regional trade, notably negotiating amendments to the Trade-Related, Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement which allowed Africans to access affordable medicines for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

I have also worked with my colleagues on the issue climate change, biodiversity, desertification, governance, rule of law, democracy and human rights, youth, peace, security and cohesion. I have been intimately involved with all issues about Africa, both soft and hard, and have chaired many meetings at the highest level. I therefore know the state of our AU.

At this defining moment in Africa’s history, everyone is aware of the massive opportunities the AU presents and understands the challenges that need to be resolved by all of us. I am known as a unifier, a consensus builder, a team player and a pan Africanist who believes in AU. I deliver on mandates entrusted to me and know I am ready and committed to the African Agenda.

My vision for the AU commission is to ensure it builds on the current momentum to secure Africa’s rightful place in the global community. To fulfill this, I envision a united continent whose transformation is decisive and inclusive. I stand for a commission that will work for realisation of objectives of a people-centred AU that is internationally respected, financially independent, economically prosperous, closely integrated and responsive to the needs and wishes of its people.

We have an obligation to shape a common destiny for our people. Our heritage, history,  views and our shared values can and must craft the solutions to our challenges. We must work together and our goal must be to empower our people and afford them opportunities to grow, prosper and to live in dignity. We already have a roadmap for Africa’s development, but it will take a visionary, strategic and determined leader at the helm of AUC to realise it. I believe that I am that leader.

7) How will you deal with elections in Africa, claims of human rights violation, migrations, Al-Ahaabab and Boko Haram terror campaigns?

Terrorism and violent extremism have emerged as major threats to international peace and security. Increased internet access and sophistication of extremism make these threats increasingly transnational, thus requiring a collaborative response. The fact that no nation can consider itself immune to these dangers means no society can remain disengaged from efforts to combat it.

The strength of terrorist groups lie in their hybrid nature, which allows them to develop flexible and adaptive approaches that exploit conventional military attacks and asymmetric warfare. Their evolving nature presents a problem for state apparatus which are often rigid and reactive. Their transnational dimension is also a challenge for law enforcement agencies. Faced with this scenario, it is imperative to put in place a comprehensive multi-pronged strategies. However, our strategies tend to lay emphasis on security solutions with less resources being dedicated to prevention. We need to collectively finance response mechanisms and within our individual national capacities.

A comprehensive strategy should involve efforts of all government agencies, including local authorities, religious associations, the private sector and civil society. It is also essential that governments engage local community leaders who are familiar with the local social fabric. Security responses must be adapted to suit the context of African states. It is important to put in place mechanisms that facilitate cooperation between defence forces, the police and the intelligence apparatus coordinated by special counter-terror units. Our aim should be to ensure Africans feel safe.

8) What does the CS win mean for Kenya and EAC?

With an effective AUC, we will see Kenyans benefit from employment and business opportunities from the rest of Africa. There will also be better response to epidermics. Kenya and the rest of the EAC will also be in a better position to negotiate international agreements, for instance on climate change and conservation. In short, investment in the success of AUC is of mutual benefit to the continent and the people of Kenya.

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