Business Daily (Kenya)
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Foreign Affairs secretary Amina Mohamed will next week face off with four other contenders for the position of African Union Commission chairperson in a first ever debate by the body.

The African Union Commission has sent invitations to all the candidates to participate a break from previous tradition where elections are held behind closed doors.

« It is our sincere belief that this debate will help in the transformation of our union and Africa, as often elections of the union leadership occur behind closed doors thus denying the broad African public an opportunity to be informed and participate in the work of the commission, » said the commission.

An invitation from the commission says all the candidates, who have expressed interest in contesting, will take part in the debate on December 9 at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia prior to elections in January.

Ms Mohamed will be competing with candidates from Botswana, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Senegal.

Deputy President William Ruto has been on a charm offensive in recent days, seeking support for Kenya’s candidate.

Last month, Ms Mohamed’s candidature for the chairperson received a major boost after a regional bloc supported her bid.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa threw its weight behind her for the top African Union job and urged members to support Djibouti’s Yacin Elmi Bouh for deputy chairperson position.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also met some 30 leaders on the sidelines of the COP22, the global climate change summit held in the Mediterranean city of Marrakech, Morocco, this month, to campaign for her.

Among the leaders were those from Nigeria, Gabon, Rwanda, Seychelles, the Comoros, Sudan, Senegal and Chad.

If approved by the continent’s delegates, Ms Mohamed will replace South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who has run the agency since 2012.

Besides her previous illustrious career at the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ms Mohamed has literally been on top of the continent’s diplomacy as Kenya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Ms Amina is also credited with using her old networks at the WTO to lobby the continental body to hold its 10th ministerial conference in Nairobi in December last year, the first one for Africa.