By Ismaila Chafe
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has begun lobbying fellow African leaders to back Kenya’s Ambassador Amina Mohamed’s quest to succeed South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as chairperson of the African Union Commission.
Kenyatta’s deputy, William Ruto came to Abuja Friday to deliver a message to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
But Buhari did not give an outright endorsement of the Kenyan foreign minister.
Rather President Buhari said Nigeria will hold robust consultations with other African leaders on the need for strong and capable leadership that will respond to the current challenges facing the continent.
The Nigerian leader said Africa needs a very strong leadership at the AUC that will encourage member states to refocus their resources and energy toward human and national development.
The present chairperson of the AU Commission, 67 year-old Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was elected into the post in July 2012. She was the first woman to occupy the post and assumed office in October 2012, replacing Congolese Jean Ping.
Her four year term has expired and she is not seeking re-election, while being rumoured to be interested in the presidency of South Africa, as a member of the ruling African National Congress.
But African leaders at a meeting in Kigali in July extended her tenure by six months after they failed to elect her successor by two thirds majority.
In the race were Uganda’s former vice-president, Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, who was eliminated in the first round of voting, Botswana foreign minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi – officially supported by South Africa – and the foreign minister of Equatorial Guinea, Agapito Mba Mokuy,
The election will now hold in January.
The Commission of the African Union acts as the executive/administrative branch or secretariat of the AU and is similar to the European Commission. It consists of a number of Commissioners dealing with different areas of policy and has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In other talks with Vice president William Ruto, President Muhammadu called on African leaders to form a strong united front to defeat terrorism and violent extremism, which is inhibiting development in Africa.
President Buhari expressed concern that the continent is still grappling with acts and effects of terrorism after a successful de-colonisation campaign.
Acknowledging the valued cooperation between Nigeria and Kenya in the fight against terrorism, the President commended the East African country for the recent successes recorded in tackling terrorism in the region.
“A situation in which insecurity continues to obstruct the process of national development should not be allowed to continue”, the President told Mr Ruto, a special envoy to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Ruto commended President Buhari for his leadership, particularly on regional security and the fight against corruption.
Ruto said President Buhari’s effort to eradicate terrorism and violent extremism had emboldened the continent’s resolve to achieve lasting peace and security.