Inside Politics

Former Somali minister to challenge Raila for AU top job

Thursday, February 29th, 2024 19:16 | By
Former Somali minister to challenge Raila for AU top job
Former Somalia Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam during a past function. PHOTO/AP

Somalia has entered the race for the position of African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson ahead of the election slated for February next year.

The country has fronted former Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzia Adam for the coveted seat, posing a direct challenge to Kenya's long-serving opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is also eyeing the continental role.

Fawzia confirmed to a local daily that she would be vying to succeed Moussa Faki at AUC as his term draws to a close.

The first female Foreign Minister in Somalia said her bid has the blessing of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is expected to lead the lobbying efforts.

She revealed that she hopes to use the position to amplify African voices and advance the African agenda on the global stage.

"I have a deep passion for Africa and a strong desire to contribute to the continent's development and progress," she told Daily Nation.

"By running for the chairperson of the AU, I aim to strengthen the bonds between African countries and work towards a more united and integrated continent."

She outlined a seven-point agenda that she hopes to prioritise if elected including Pan-African unity, sustainable development, peace and security, youth empowerment and gender equality, as well as climate change and good governance.

Somalia's government spokesman Daudi Aweis had earlier praised Fawzia's successes as minister, saying she had the full support of Mohamud's administration.

"Following key diplomatic achievements such as lifting the arms embargo, debt relief, and joining the EAC, Somalia is now well-placed to play a major role in the world," Aweis said, adding that the county would endorse "Veteran diplomat Fawzia Yusuf Adam as our nominee for the top position at the AU."

Fawzia served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia from November 4, 2012 to January 17, 2014.

She is currently serving as a member of parliament in Somalia and leader of the National Democratic Alliance party.

Her entry into the race complicates matters for Raila who hoped to secure endorsement from all the states in the East African region.

Earlier, Raila said he had received endorsement from Kenya's President William Ruto, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Samia Suluhu of Tanzania and South Sudan's Salva Kiir.

He also revealed plans to seek Rwandan President Paul Kagame's support for his bid for the continental job next week before heading to South Africa for a similar campaign.

Raila, widely recognized as a champion of democracy and pan-Africanism, formally declared his bid to succeed Faki as AUC chair on February 15.

The ODM party leader said he was ready to serve in that position, having previously held the position of AU High Representative for Infrastructure.

"Serving as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure gave me the advantage of learning about each African country. I believe by working together, we can emancipate Africa," Raila said.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who attended the press conference, was the first leader to publicly throw his weight behind Raila's candidature.

“I have no doubt that my friend (Raila) is a viable candidate but subject to views, feelings, positions and presentations of our leaders in the East Africa sub-region,” Obasanjo stated.

The former Head of State further expressed his belief that it is East Africa's opportunity to occupy the high office.

“Not too long ago we had Southern Africa, one occupying the seat now is Central Africa. Before that, we had West Africa,” he noted.

“If the region can come together and put the candidate forward, then that is how it should be."

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