I

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

T was great to see Kenya un­leash a diplo­matic charm of­fen­sive to rally the con­ti­nent be­hind Amina Mo­hamed’s can­di­da­ture for the African Union Com­mis­sion’s top job.

In it­self, the job is pow­er­ful and lu­cra­tive. It gives the holder quite a diplo­matic lever­age both within the con­ti­nent and beyond. If she clinches the job dur­ing the elec­tion planned for Jan­uary, Kenya’s in­ter­na­tional pro­file will re­ceive a ma­jor boost. The win will give the coun­try high bar­gain­ing power on the con­ti­nent and all the way to the United Na­tions.

For ex­am­ple, the diplo­matic charm of­fen­sive spear­headed by Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto went beyond seek­ing for votes for Mo­hamed. It had an el­e­ment of bi­lat­eral talks: Some kind of scratchmy-back-and-I-scratch-yours div­i­dend.

It is not just about Kenya ask­ing for the vote. It also in­cludes a prom­ise of what Kenya will do in re­turn for those coun­tries that hon­our the re­quest and vote for her, in the event that she wins.

Thus, the diplo­matic ef­fort Kenya has put in is okay, bear­ing in mind that states com­pete for th­ese jobs and the fact that they ac­crue lever­age in diplo­matic terms. Be­sides, this is a pow­er­ful po­si­tion whose holder can in­flu­ence the agenda of the African Union and de­ter­mine the course of Africa’s diplo­macy. In any case, Kenya is en­dowed with re­sources and, thus, it can af­ford the kind of ef­fort that we saw last week when Deputy Pres­i­dent Ruto led the of­fen­sive across the con­ti­nent with a visit to sev­eral states. Many coun­tries on the con­ti­nent lack the re­sources to put in the kind of ef­fort that Kenya has done.

Good as the ef­fort was to the coun­try’s im­age, my fear is that the gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort may amount to noth­ing. There are se­ri­ous chal­lenges that Kenya will have to over­come. Mo­hamed’s bid for the po­si­tion may fal­ter be­cause of fac­tors in­de­pen­dent of this diplo­matic charm of­fen­sive.

First of all, Eras­tus Mwen­cha, a Kenyan, is al­ready the deputy chair­per­son at the Com­mis­sion. It is un­likely that 54 Africa states will swal­low the idea of two na­tion­als from one coun­try hold­ing two very se­nior po­si­tions at the Com­mis­sion.

Mo­hamed, just like the out­go­ing chief, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, is a woman. Some states have al­ready ex­pressed reser­va­tions about one woman suc­ceed­ing an­other and there­fore they will be re­luc­tant to sup­port her bid.

Kenya’s de­ci­sion to pull its troops out of South Su­dan has in­tro­duced a hith­erto un­seen chal­lenge to the bid.

IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT KENYA ASK­ING FOR THE VOTE. IT ALSO IN­CLUDES A PROM­ISE OF WHAT KENYA WILL DO IN RE­TURN FOR THOSE COUN­TRIES THAT HON­OUR THE RE­QUEST AND VOTE FOR HER, IN THE EVENT THAT SHE WINS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.