Rwanda will back the candidature of Dr Amina Mohammed, the Kenyan Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary for the position of African Union Commission Chairperson.
Oria Kije Vande Weghe, the Spokesperson Assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed this to The New Times, yesterday, a week after the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Mohammed’s nomination.
Dr Mohammed is expected to battle it out with Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi from Botswana, and Agapito Mba Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea during the African Union summit slated for January next year.
Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe from Uganda, who was previously East Africa’s preferred candidate, has since pulled out of the race. According to James Mugume, Uganda’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Uganda will not be fielding another candidate and intends to support a candidate from the East African region.
It is likely that Dr Mohammed will also get the support of other East African countries.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, said in July that the East African region would go into the election as a bloc with one preferred candidate.
Dr Kazibwe’s withdrawal does not come as a surprise considering that during the elections for the position in Kigali in July, she was the first one to be eliminated from the race after coming third.
The July elections were, however, not without drama. Days ahead of the elections, Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) had written to the African Union Commission calling for postponement of the exercise on the grounds that none of the candidates was qualified enough for the position.
Some members of the West African bloc had threatened to boycott the elections if the AU went ahead with them.
By abstaining from voting, the bloc ensured it denied any of the candidates the required two thirds majority.
The elections were later pushed to January next year.
Dr Kazibwe, a former vice president of Uganda, was the first to pull out of the race after garnering the least votes in the first round of voting.
And, in the second round which pitted Dr Moitoi of Botswana and Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea, none of the two candidates polled the required minimum to emerge winner.
Though Dr Moitoi garnered 23 votes, it was way below the required two thirds majority; 36.
At least 28 countries abstained from the second round of voting, citing wanting qualifications of the two candidates.
Who is Amina Mohammed?
Dr Mohammed has a long career in diplomacy and international relations in Kenya and international bodies.
Mohammed served as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs.
She also previously served as president of the United Nations International Conference on Transnational Crime in Vienna, Austria for a two-year period and was appointed by the UN Secretary General as United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
This year, she was elected president of UNCTAD 14 for the next 4 years, while she was chairperson of the historic WTO 10th Ministerial Conference, the top decision-making body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).