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Civil Society tells state not to fund Raila's AU bid

 Kenya human rights defenders addressing the press during International day for social justice in Nairobi on February 20th 2024. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The civil society has urged the government not to fund Raila Odinga's bid for the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson.

Speaking during celebrations to mark the International World Social Justice Day, in Nairobi, yesterday, Bunge La Mwananchi Social Movement president Francis Awino emphasized the need for the government to direct its resources towards pressing issues affecting Kenyans amid challenging economic times.

"There is no way the government is stressing Kenyans with taxes then end up supporting a course that will not put food on our table. If the president really wants to ...then he should do so with his own money and not public funds," he said.

Awino threatened to call for mass action in the 47 counties if the Kenya Kwanza government proceeds with the plan to bankroll the opposition leader's bid.

"We will mobilise all our networks in the 47 counties and march to the Treasury to demand that the money is given to Kenyans starving or channeled to other priority areas but not to support the aspirations of an individual," he said.

Last Thursday, in the company of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Raila declared interest in the AUC Chairperson seat, to replace the incumbent, Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad.

"If the leadership of Africa desires my services, I am prepared and offer myself to serve this continent. I am ready to pursue the chairmanship of the African Union," the Azimio leader said.

Obasanjo expressed confidence in the candidature of Raila, stating that it was the right time for a leader from Eastern African to be the chairman of the AUC. 

"We need a person with experience, a person who understands the situation we are in and a person who comes from a background that can make a difference. We believe people who have held positions of head of government as prime minister or president will be the right people at this particular time to hold the AUC position," he said.

Having served as AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila is relying on his vast networks in the continent to clinch the AUC position.

The announcement widely received support, with the government and the opposition expressing support for the former prime minister's bid.

However, there is speculation of Raila candidacy being a project of President William Ruto, who is scheming an exit for a vocal critic of his programmes.

In addition to receiving support from their governments; AUC chairperson candidates will also need to engage in a flurry of negotiations with neighbours or nations that share regional economic blocs

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