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Raila's quest for AU job gets boost from Angola and Guinea-Bissau

 Azimio Leader Raila Odinga chats with Governor Gladys Wanga during the Homabay County International Investment Conference. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s bid for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson position got a boost following a commitment by Angola and Guinea-Bissau to support him.

Angola’s Ambassador to Kenya Sianga Abilio on Thursday said the Southern African nation would not “let Kenya down”, the strongest suggestion that they would back Raila’s bid.

“Angola is aware and is working on that issue (Raila’s candidacy) and will not let Kenya, as a brother, down,” said Mr Abilio.

He spoke during an event to mark 22 years since the end of the civil war at Angola’s Embassy in Nairobi on Thursday.

Similarly, President William Ruto, on a State visit to Guinea-Bissau, said the West African nation would support Raila.

“I thank His Excellency (Gen Umaro Sissoco Embalo) most sincerely for accepting to support Kenya’s candidature for the AUC Chairperson for the 2025-2028 period. Kenya’s candidature is informed by the role we play in enhancing and sustaining the Pan-African agenda,” said Ruto.

The developments come days after Raila secured Ghana’s support for the top job, earning a major boost in his quest, announced also by Ruto.

Raila, facing off against Somalia’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam, is emerging as a clear favourite, having bagged the support of a number of nations.

Rwanda and Uganda have pledged to back his bid after he met Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, with Ruto saying the East African region would back the former prime minister to replace outgoing chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Raila recently toured a number of nations seeking endorsement for the seat reserved for Eastern Africa, with Ruto boosting the opposition leader’s chances by leading campaigns on the government’s front.

Nairobi is seeking consensus on the position, with Ruto rallying the region to back Raila’s bid.

Elections for the post are slated for February next year, with the victor requiring the support of two-thirds of AU member states if no consensus is reached.

Abilio also said his nation was considering visa-free travel requirements for Kenyans, even as he noted that Kenya’s visa-free policy entailed cumbersome processes.

“Angola is also working on reciprocating Kenya’s efforts to waive visa requirements,” he added, even as he fronted areas for cooperation between the two nations and investment opportunities in Angola.

He highlighted Luanda’s experience in oil and mineral exploration, which he said Kenya could glean from. “The oil sector is a capital-intensive sector... it’s not easy for Africans to have the money needed to invest in the sector. But we must remember that opportunities are not just in exploration and production of oil. There are a number of services in that sector where money is flowing,” said the envoy, even as he called for Nairobi’s support to enhance tourism in Angola.

“Kenyans have built capacity in tourism. Our biodiversity is almost the same. There is no war. Come and join us and build partnerships with us in tourism,” he added.

He also waded into Angola’s painful experience with civil war, saying that African nations can learn from the country’s rise from the ashes to be a leading economy.

“We should talk more to save life. People are dying. It is important to disarm and integrate,” said Abilio.

Angola is involved in peace efforts in the conflict in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with its President João Lourenço leading the Luanda process, mediating between DRC and Rwanda, which runs alongside the Nairobi process.

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