Editor's Review

Raila's announcement created a buzz across the country with many wondering whether the decision meant he had quit local politics.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga on February 15, 2024, announced that he was ready to contest for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson job.  

His announcement created a buzz across the country with many wondering whether the decision meant that he had quit local politics. 

However, it is worth noting that international jobs such as this are acquired through voting by member states, and as such a lot of lobbying is required for a candidate to emerge victorious.

Over the past few years, a number of high profile Kenyans such as Cabinet Secretaries (CS) expressed interest in various continental jobs, but either came short or dropped out.

In this outline, we outline three former CSs whose bid for international jobs did not materialise:

Raychelle Omamo

Former Defense and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo vied to be the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

She contested against other candidates such as; Shobhana Kumar Pattanayak (India), Khaled A. Mahdi (Kuwait), and Alvaro Lario (Spain). 

Lario who was then serving as IFAD's associate vice president and chief financial officer won the contest and will serve a four-year term.

Former Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Energy) and Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs). [Photo: Courtesy]  

Monica Juma

The former Foreign Affairs and Energy Cabinet Secretary had expressed interest in being Commonwealth's Secretary-general but withdrew from the race citing division within the international body.

Media reports indicated that Kenya had sought the backing of a majority of member states, but some were non-committal.

"Because the Commonwealth is a fraternal body, consensus is very important when it comes to a change of leadership. Kenya had managed to mobilise a majority of member states, over 30 of them, in support of Monica Juma. We still had a few who felt that they were not yet ready. In the interest of harmony and fraternal relations with the Commonwealth we felt that we will back away from the contest for now," the ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Amina Mohammed

The former Sports, Education, and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary unsuccessfully contested for the AUC chairperson job in 2017.

Ambassador Mohamed was defeated by the current AUC Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad.

Speaking after the election, Amina blamed the loss on division in the continent noting that it was unfortunate that counties from the Southern part abstained from the vote.

Interestingly, all three candidates at one point served as Kenya's Foreign Affairs minister in Uhuru's government.