Angola signals support for Raila’s AU job bid

Angola has signaled it will support Kenya’s bid for former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to clinch the African Union Commission Chairperson’s seat in what promises to be growing public support for Nairobi’s candidate.

Angola’s Ambassador to Kenya Sianga Samuel Abilio said his country will ‘stand in solidarity’ with Kenya with a view to seeing Raila clinch the top seat. But Mr Abilio remained diplomatic on whether Angola has made a formal commitment to that.

“Angola is aware of the matter and is working on that issue. We will not let Kenya down.

“This is a diplomatic answer to you,” Mr Abilio told the Saturday Nation on Thursday.

Angola was celebrating 22 years since the end of civil war and Mr Abilio gathered a group of experts on trade and security to speak of his country’s continued re-integration in the continent after years of war.

Angola’s ruling MPLA party and then rebels UNITA ended Africa’s longest war, at the time, by signing a peace agreement in the capital, Luanda on April 4, 2002. Angolans call it the day of peace and national reconciliation.

The envoy’s expression that Angola could be amenable to a Raila candidacy may be good news for Nairobi which last week began lobbying. Raila veteran opposition leader formally declared his interest in the position on February 1, 2024, in Nairobi and was instantly endorsed by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Rwanda and Ghana have voiced similar pledges and President Ruto said East African Community members had promised to back Raila, even though Somalia has also fronted a candidate.

On Wednesday, Kenya struck a deal with Ghana that will see Accra support Raila Odinga’s bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship.

President William Ruto confirmed that Ghana has accepted to support Raila’s candidature for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission (2025-28) which has been initiated following a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process across government.

In return, Nairobi will support Ghana’s candidate for the Commonwealth Secretary General’s position.

Raila has worked before as the High Representative for Infrastructure Development at the African Union Commission, a position he took up in 2018.

He was controversially relieved of his duties by the entity on 23 February 2023.

When he first declared his interest in the AUC chairmanship position, Mr Obasanjo, a former Nigerian Head of State said it is the right time for a person from Eastern Africa to head the AU Commission and that he believed that Raila was a viable candidate. The African Union has since confirmed that only candidates from the eastern Africa region will compete for AUC Chairperson when elections come up next year in February.

Raila has since garnered the support of President William Ruto whom he ran against in the 2022 presidential election.

The two leaders have lately put aside their political differences with President Ruto rallying legislators from Kenya Kwanza Alliance to support Raila’s bid.

It is understood that President Ruto and Raila have crafted a campaign team to rally regional leaders to support Raila’s bid for the top job.

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