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Djibouti's Mahmoud Ali Youssouf enters AUC Chair race against Kenya, Somalia

Wednesday April 10, 2024

Djibouti Foreign Affairs Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf

Mogadishu (HOL) - Djibouti has nominated Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, its seasoned Foreign Affairs Minister, as its contender for the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, joining Kenya and Somalia in a competitive race for this key position.

Djibouti's presidency, which announced Youssouf's candidacy on Tuesday, highlighted his over two decades of diplomatic experience. Youssouf is set to compete against Somalia's Fawzia Yusuf Adam and Kenya's Raila Odinga for the chairpersonship, succeeding Moussa Faki, who has been in office since 2017.

"Djibouti expresses its faith in Mr. Mahmoud Ali Youssouf's seasoned diplomacy and in-depth knowledge of the Continental Organization," the Djibouti presidency stated, endorsing him as a candidate capable of revitalizing the Pan-African Organization.

As the February 2025 elections approach, Kenya has garnered endorsements from Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Ghana, reflecting President William Ruto's intensive campaign for Odinga. 

The AUC Chairperson election is part of the African Union's broader reforms aimed at improving leadership selection transparency, regional representation, and gender parity. The Eastern Africa region has been designated to nominate candidates for the next Chairperson, a decision ratified by the African Union's Executive Council.

Candidates for the AUC Chairperson position who will serve a four-year renewable term are expected to have substantial expertise and advanced degrees in law, international relations, or political science. The Chairperson acts as the Union's Chief Executive Officer and legal representative.

Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adan, who announced her candidacy in early March, is a trailblazer in Somali politics. She previously served as Somalia's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister from November 2012 to January 2014, becoming the first Somali woman to be nominated for this prestigious position.

Somalia, a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, has never held the top position within the organization, making Adan's candidacy a watershed moment for the country.

In late March, Somalia formed an eight-member committee led by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre to prepare for the African Union Commission (AUC) election campaign.   


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