Inside Politics

‘I will be available if you need me’- Raila tells supporters concerned about his AU bid

Thursday, February 29th, 2024 15:27 | By
'I will be available if you need me'- Raila tells supporters concerned about his AU bid
Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga launches the Marani Vegetable Aggregation and Marketing Center in Kisii County on Thursday, February 29, 2024. PHOTO/Raila Odinga(@RailaOdinga)/X

Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga has ruled out retirement from local politics amid his bid for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairmanship.

Speaking during the opening of the Marani Vegetable Aggregation and Marketing Centre in Kisii County on Thursday, February 29, the former prime said securing the coveted seat would not deter him from contributing to local political affairs during his free time.

He also assured his supporters that he would not hesitate to avail himself should they need his services in the local political scene.

“If Kenyans will need me for any other job I'll be available, I will take a break from the AU and come deal with the job Kenyans have given me,” Raila told Kisii residents.

In apparent reference to the Azimio coalition's 2022 presidential campaign manifesto, Raila noted that there was need to deliver on what he promised Kenyans.

"I will come back to work for Kenyans because what we had said we would do I must deliver," the opposition chief added.

He argued that the continental role would not be an issue because Ethiopia is just a few hours from Nairobi, thus allowing him to fully participate in local affairs during the weekends.

"Baba is not going anywhere. It only takes two hours to fly to Addis Ababa. I will sleep here in Kisii, leave by plane at 8 am, arrive there by 10 am and work, and then return on Friday," Raila stated.

At the same time, Raila noted that his bid has the blessing of East African Community (EAC), citing endorsement from 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.

However, Raila's remarks are likely to spark a debate on his candidacy, as AU regulations prohibit the holder of the office from engaging in active politics.

Raila, widely recognized as a champion of democracy and pan-Africanism, formally declared his bid to succeed Moussa 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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