How President Ruto’s Iran-Israel Remarks Could Wreck Raila Odinga’s AUC Bid

By The Weekly Vision Team

As the clock inches closer to the African Union Commission chairmanship election, the leader of Azimio, Raila Odinga, is encountering significant diplomatic hurdles that could potentially undermine his successful bid for the seat if not resolved diplomatically. A statement by President William Ruto condemning the Islamic Republic of Iran’s drone and missile strikes on Israel last week was condemned by a section of the diplomatic community who believed he rushed over the matter. 

ODM party leader Raila Odinga. Courtesy

Analysts from across the political and diplomatic community have reached a consensus that President Ruto’s statements pose a threat to Mr Raila Odinga’s successful bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship. Many political observers have opined that the president’s statement may have been made to please some Western governments, especially the United States of America, overlooking the fact that Kenya should align itself with the African Union’s position on Israel or, in the worst-case scenario, maintain a non-aligned status. 

President Ruto was advised to refrain from making any remarks on the issue and to defer to the African Union for a clear decision regarding the conflict; this would be favourable for Mr Odinga’s campaign. Consequently, it is essential to emphasise that countries opposing President Ruto’s alignment with Israel against Iran could potentially resort to a protest vote, thereby obstructing Mr Odinga’s chances of clinching the post. 

The big question experts are asking is the rationale behind the president’s quick decision to issue a statement denouncing Iran’s assault on Israel. The move was interpreted by diplomats to mean that Kenya was favouring a particular side in the conflict between Iran and Israel. Analysts well-versed in diplomatic affairs opine that the president should steer clear of the ongoing war in the Middle East, as aligning the country with either side may lead to Africa being perceived by the rest of the world as a divided continent.

The current scenario reveals a division among African countries, with some aligning themselves with Iran or Israel. Consequently, Africa’s unity is at stake, thereby posing a potential obstacle to Raila Odinga’s aspirations for the AUC chairmanship. 

Currently, Ruto’s endorsement of Israel, seemingly with the support of the US, gives the impression that Kenya is a mere puppet of the US. Consequently, this perception may extend to suggesting that Kenya’s candidate for the AUC is also under the influence of the US. Lastly, it is imperative to note that President Ruto hastily condemned the attacks before the US issued a statement. This prompt reaction has generated intrigue and speculation within the diplomatic community in Nairobi.