Ruto's UDA party backs Raila for AU Commission Chairperson

Ruto's UDA party backs Raila for AU Commission Chairperson

UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala, flanked by other party members, addresses the press on February 17, 2024. PHOTO | CITIZEN DIGITAL

The ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party has formally expressed support for opposition leader Raila Odinga’s bid for the African Union Commission Chairperson position.

UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala, speaking during a press address on Saturday, heaped praise on the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party boss terming him a “true Pan-Africanist.”

Malala stated that the President William Ruto-led party’s resolve to back Mr. Odinga’s bid was not a political decision, but rather a patriotic one made to raise the country’s profile and image on the continental scene.

“We welcome Raila’s decision to take up the AU position...Raila is an African luminary...He deserves the position based on his contribution to the continent, and will immensely contribute to African unity,” he said.

“Raila has proved himself as a true Pan-Africanist. When Africa was going through dictatorship, Raila was there to condemn it...he adds up to Africa’s great sons, and played a big role in African democracy.”

Malala added: “UDA party is mindful of the need to come together as a country to support our own. Our party supporters are therefore asked to support Raila...This is not a political statement, it is a patriotic statement.”

The UDA SG further went ahead to address reports that former President Uhuru Kenyatta is also angling for the same position as Mr. Odinga.

“Kama Uhuru Kenyatta atataka pia AU slot, itakuwa ni kama mchuano wa Omanyala na Kipchoge...lakini sasa hivi tunajua ni Raila Odinga ametangaza,” he noted.

The backing by the ruling party comes after Mr. Odinga’s own Azimio coalition already endorsed his bid, expressing confidence and optimism that the former Prime Minister was the man for the job.

The opposition party cited what it termed as Mr. Odinga's unwavering commitment to respect for the rule of law, democracy and the general welfare of the people as the pillars of his candidature.

"As Azimio coalition, we welcome and congratulate our party leader for the bold step of putting his name forward for consideration of this most important role to the African continent and its people. We fully support his decision and we shall back his candidature to our fullest capacity," the party said in a statement on Friday.

"From the onset, Mr. Odinga has played a crucial and selfless role in the democratisation of our nation. His sacrifices towards achieving socio-economic development, inclusivity, and stability of our Republic are well documented. He has always put Kenya first. These are qualities that we believe are needed for the next Chairperson of the AU Commission."

Mr. Odinga, while declaring his interest in the AU Commission position on Thursday, said he had engaged in wide consultations before ultimately resolving to throw his hat in the ring.

"Should the leadership of Africa want my services I am ready and offer myself to be of service to this continent. I'm ready yes to go for the chairmanship of the African Union," he said during a press conference flanked by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who also supported his bid.


UDA Raila Odinga Cleophas Malala President William Ruto AU Commission

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