FLOATED FOR AU CHAIR. Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Amb. Amina Mohamed

After successfully edging out the formerly endorsed East African candidate Dr Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe for the Africa Union top job, neighbouring Kenya is now lobbying southern African countries to support its Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed’s candidature.

Uganda's former candidate for the AU chairperson post Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe
Uganda’s former candidate for the AU chairperson post Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe

Last week the Uganda government asked Dr Wandira Kazibwe to bow out of the AU Chairperson race, with foreign affairs Permanent Secretary James Mugume saying the competition level is not in favour of the ‘Pearl of Africa’, a development that paved the way for Kenya to leverage for its foreign affairs CS.

AU RACE: SADC contender Dr Pelonomi -Venson Moitoi, who is currently Botswana's foreign minister.
AU RACE: SADC contender Dr Pelonomi -Venson Moitoi, who is currently Botswana’s foreign minister.

 

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And now sources privy to closed-door discussions between President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Jacob Zuma in Nairobi, have revealed that Kenya was pushing to have Botswana’s Foreign minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who has also declared an interest in the position, to shelve her ambitions.

Although both leaders steered clear of the matter in public statements, President Zuma, whose former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is the incumbent, is understood to have promised to raise the matter with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). “The matter was discussed by the two Presidents on the need to have Dr Venson-Moitoi withdraw his candidature in favour of Dr Mohammed. President Zuma did not give his government’s position and asked for more time to engage the SADC members,” revealed a Kenyan diplomat who asked not to be named.

“President Zuma is optimistic Kenya’s candidate will get the backing of SADC and only then will he make his position public,” he added.

One reason cited for getting Venson-Moitoi to withdraw is the fact that Dr Dlamini-Zuma is from the same region.

President Kenyatta recently disclosed that Kenya had submitted Dr Mohammed’s candidacy for the position in an election to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January. Other countries eyeing the position and that have submitted the names of their candidates are Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Chad and Somalia.