UDA endorses Raila for AU job, describe him as Panafricanist

When foremer Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo endorse Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga's bid to contest for the AUC chairmanship. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

The ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has endorsed Opposition leader Raila Odinga's bid to be the next chairperson of the Africa Union Commission as a show of patriotism. 

UDA's Secretary General Cleophas Malala in his endorsement refuted claims that the ruling party’s support for Raila’s bid is political.

The SG spoke during a press conference in Nairobi at a time President William Ruto was in Ethiopia attending the 37th African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government.

Lobbying for Raila’s candidature for the African Union top job is said to be one of the President’s main agendas at the summit that brings together Heads of State and governments from across the continent.

In Nairobi, Malala who was flanked by city leaders and other party members officially expressed UDA's support for Raila’s latest endeavor terming the opposition leader a “true Pan-Africanist.”

He explained that the President Ruto-led UDA's resolve to throw its weight behind Raila’s bid was a patriotic decision and one made to bolster the country’s image at the continental stage.

“UDA welcomes Raila’s decision to take up the African Union position. He is a luminary and he deserves the position given his contribution to the continent. We are confident he will immensely contribute towards African unity,” said Malala.

He added that Raila had over the years proved himself as a true Pan-Africanist; When Africa was going through dictatorship, Raila was there to condemn it. He also described Raila as one of Africa’s great sons who has played a big role in African democracy.

“UDA party is mindful of the need to come together as a country to support our own. Our party supporters are therefore asked to support Raila. This is not a political statement, it is a patriotic statement,” remarked Malala.

His was seemingly a well-thought-out response to utterances by a section of leaders from the opposition who had claimed that the AU job was President William Ruto’s way of clipping Raila’s local political clout ahead of the 2027 general elections.

Raila’s exit from local politics is also seen as a move calculated to plunge   the Azimio la Umoja Coalition party into a confusion.

The SG also took head-on claims that former President Uhuru Kenyatta was also angling for the AU top job and that he would be battling it out with Raila portending a clash of the two Azimio leaders at the continental stage.

“If indeed Uhuru is interested in the position then it is going to be a very interesting contest between him and his brother Raila…but as of now we know that it is Raila who has declared his bid,” he stated.

Hi statement came a day after the Azimio coalition backed Raila Odinga’s intentions to vie for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairmanship.

The coalition, in a statement released on Friday, February 16, said that Odinga has portrayed endless commitment to pan-Africanism - a trait a true AU chair should possess.

“We welcome and congratulate our party leader for the bold step of putting his name forward for consideration of this most important role to the African continent and its people. We fully support his decision and we shall back his candidature to our fullest capacity,” read the statement.

According to the coalition, Odinga’s leadership has promoted democratic principles, human rights, and good governance in Kenya and across the continent, making him the ideal candidate for the position.

“Odinga has played a crucial and selfless role in the democratization of our nation. His sacrifices towards achieving socio-economic development, inclusivity, and stability of our Republic are well documented. He has always put Kenya first. These are qualities that we believe are needed for the next chairperson of the AU Commission,” further read the statement.

Azimio’s support for its leader also came hours after Raila’s declaration that he intended to vie for the AU chairman position. He promised 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.