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Raila Odinga announces candidacy for AU commission chairmanship

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga speaks during a press briefing with journalists in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, 25, July, 2023   -  
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Khalil Senosi/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Renowned Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has officially announced his candidacy for the Chairperson position of the African Union Commission (AUC), setting the stage for a potentially historic leadership bid.

In a press briefing held on Thursday, Odinga declared his readiness to contest for the influential role, highlighting his extensive consultations with allies before making the decision.

"If the leadership of Africa desires my services, I am prepared and offer myself to serve this continent. I am ready to pursue the chairmanship of the African Union," affirmed Odinga.

Expressing concern over the "brain drain" phenomenon, Odinga voiced his discontent with the plight of African youth forced to seek opportunities abroad due to challenging economic conditions. He pledged to leverage his leadership to transform Africa's fortunes and position the continent as an economic powerhouse.

"As a Pan-Africanist, I firmly believe that Africa should aspire for more. We deserve better," Odinga asserted. "We must reverse this trend and harness all our resources for the accelerated socio-economic growth of our continent."

Citing his tenure as the AU special envoy for infrastructure development in Africa from 2018 to 2023, Odinga emphasized his qualifications for the position, noting his comprehensive understanding of the socio-economic landscape across the continent.

"This role provided me with a unique advantage to gain insights into every African country. I am confident that by collaborating with these nations, we can uplift Africa," Odinga remarked.

Odinga revealed that he has engaged with former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, present at the address, to rally leaders across the continent and garner support for his candidacy.

In endorsing Odinga's bid, Obasanjo emphasized the significance of having an East African leader assume the AUC chairperson mantle, signaling a potential shift in regional representation within the AU leadership.

The AUC chairperson position is set to become vacant next year, with the incumbent, Chad's Moussa Faki, concluding his two-term tenure. The chairperson serves as the chief executive officer and legal representative of the AU, overseeing administrative and financial matters, promoting the AU's objectives, and engaging with stakeholders.

As Odinga throws his hat into the ring for one of Africa's most prestigious leadership roles, his candidacy carries implications not only for Kenya but for the broader trajectory of continental governance and development.

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