Kenya's Amina urges inquest into her loss at AU commission polls

Tuesday January 31 2017

Kenya's Foreign Affairs minister Amina Mohamed

Kenya's Foreign Affairs minister Amina Mohamed briefs journalists in Addis Ababa on January 31, 2017. PHOTO | AGGREY MUTAMBO | NATION MEDIA GROUP. 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Foreign Affairs minister Amina Mohamed now wants Kenya’s neighbours investigated for abandoning her during AU Commission chair polls in Addis.

The inquest, she says, should establish why neighbour countries, whom she did not name, decamped to vote for other candidates in the Monday election.

In the first press conference since she lost to Chadian Foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, Ms Mohamed on Tuesday said some of the pledges made by the unnamed neighbouring countries were “deceptive.”

“Things fell apart at the last round,” she told journalists in the Ethiopian capital.

“I think the fear from some that maybe we were going to get it (led to this). So they probably withdrew their support.”

Language issues?

She said Kenya should draw lessons from the loss.

“Are we seen as a friend or a threat?” she asked, adding that “appearances are deceptive.”

“I think we are very honest people so it is difficult to deal with deceptive people. Going forward, it is a good lesson to learn. If we ever vied for a continental position, we have to take all that into consideration and probably pick someone who speaks more French than English for the office.”

Ms Mohamed was smarting from a defeat from a man few expected to get the seat.

All along, she had sought votes across Africa and President Uhuru Kenyatta sent emissaries to 53 countries seeking the vote.

While the East African Community and other countries in the neighbourhood pledged to vote for her, she fell from the race in the sixth round.

She collected 25 votes against Faki’s 28.

Conflicting interests

And moments after the results were out, it emerged that Djibouti, Burundi and Uganda had decamped to vote for the Chadian candidate.

Ms Mohamed said she believed the countries, she did not mention, had other interests that made them look elsewhere at the hour of need.

“I think they were interests that we, as a country, we should not actually be pursuing. We are pretty comfortable with where we are because the honest votes across the continent that we needed. As for the rest, I think there will be a lot of soul-searching and self-reflection going forward.”

Francophone

The Chadian candidate became the fourth AUC Chairperson to come from the Francophone countries.

From the outset, it appeared to be the strength of the Francophone countries against the Anglophone.

But National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale blamed the civil society groups for bringing up the International Criminal Court matter at the AU.

“Our friends who we had issues with as far as the Rome Statute and the ICC was concerned were back in the Addis,” he lamented.

ICC cases

“There were so many civil society groups, we know them…they were a number of them. They felt very uncomfortable with having a Kenyan candidate winning the prestigious position and of course our reform agenda.”

Kenya has been one of the fiercest critics of the ICC since it indicted President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

Ms Mohamed successfully lobbied the AU to pass a resolution demanding that no sitting head of state should be arrested and handed over to the ICC.

The Court has since dropped the Kenyan charges. But the wave of criticism has grown to a point where some members like South Africa, Burundi and The Gambia want out of the Rome Statute, the formative law of the ICC.