Kenya’s aspiration to nominate a candidate for the upcoming African Union Commission Chairperson’s seat has seen a significant boost, following the Council of Ministers’ decision within the continental body to drop two critical proposals. Prime Cabinet Secretary of Kenya, Musalia Mudavadi, disclosed that the African Union will no longer stipulate gender requirements for the next Chairperson and has agreed to consider candidates from Eastern Africa, with the region retaining autonomy in candidate selection.

According to Mudavadi’s office, the Council unanimously affirmed Eastern Africa’s prerogative to nominate the next Chairperson, marking a substantial breakthrough for the region in positioning candidates for the AU Commission Chairmanship. The decision of the Council now awaits approval from the Assembly, comprising the heads of state and government of the 55-member bloc, before becoming official regulation within the AU framework.

The abandonment of the gender requirement could alleviate concerns for potential candidates like Raila Odinga, who might have faced barriers if the rule were enforced. Kenya’s diplomatic efforts were instrumental in advocating for this shift in policy, leveraging general discord over the entanglement of rotation and gender parity regulations.

Since 2021, the African Union had agreed to ensure gender balance by appointing a Deputy Chairperson opposite in gender to the Chairperson. However, a consensus on alternating genders for the Chairperson role had not been reached. The rotational principle was established in 2018, dictating that regions would take turns holding the Chairperson position in English alphabetical order: Central, Eastern, Northern, Western, and Southern.

Raila Odinga’s prospects for contesting the AU Commission Chairperson position have become clearer with these developments, as Kenya faces fewer technical or legal obstacles in submitting its candidate. The decision of the Council effectively opens the door for Odinga’s candidacy.

Moreover, the ruling delineates that only the Northern Africa region will nominate candidates for the Deputy Chairperson position, while the remaining regions – Central, Southern, and Western – will vie for the six Commissioner positions.


Aspect Details
Decision Context Council of Ministers drops gender requirement and agrees to consider Eastern Africa candidates
Approval Process Assembly’s endorsement awaited for decision to become official AU regulation
Diplomatic Influence Kenya’s lobbying efforts contribute to policy shift
Rotational Principles AU agrees on rotational Chairperson selection by regional blocs
Candidate Implications Raila Odinga’s candidacy for AU Commission Chairperson gains traction
Position Allocation Northern Africa nominates Deputy Chairperson, other regions compete for Commissioner positions

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