Djibouti has said it supported the candidature of Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for the position of chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), despite the Horn of Africa country seeking the deputy chairperson’s position.
Mariam Ahmed Goumaneh, the Djiboutian Ambassador to Kenya, told the Nation on Tuesday that claims of her country voting for rivals were just negative comments by people bent on spoiling relations between the two countries.
“The Republic of Djibouti would like to clarify that we share a cordial relationship based on mutual confidence, despite the outcome of the elections,” she said.
“The Republic of Djibouti supported the Kenyan candidature, and in addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Djibouti, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, paid a courtesy call to the president of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, to express the support of our regional candidate.”
Djibouti, Burundi and Uganda have been defending their choice candidates when the AU held its election for the next AUC chairperson. Ms Mohamed who had been the front runner with Senegal’s Abdoulaye Bathily, eventually lost out to surprise winner Mahamat Faki of Chad.
And immediately after the election, Kenyan diplomats pointed the finger at the three countries for shifting allegiance in the penultimate round of voting, something that they claim weakened Ms Mohamed’s chances of clinching victory.
“We have drawn very good lessons. That appearances are deceptive. I think we are very honest people so it is difficult to deal with deceptive people,” Ms Mohamed told reporters after the election, hinting at betrayal but refusing to name the countries involved.
Djibouti was particularly accused of decamping because it was fielding a candidate for the deputy chairperson’s position in Yacin Elmi Bouh, the current Interior Minister of the Horn of Africa country. As a norm, the eastern Africa region was entitled two posts for commissioners, but could not produce chairperson and deputy chairperson at the same time.
Mr Bouh lost out to Thomas Kwesi Quertey of Ghana. Djibouti’s candidate for Commissioner for Political Affairs Hawa Ahmed Youssouf was defeated by Burkina Faso’s candidate Minata Cessouma Samate.
On Tuesday, Ms Goumaneh said the outcome of the election would not change the status of relations between the two countries, who have both sent their troops to be part of the African Union Mission in Somalia to fight the Shabaab terrorist group.
“We are also confident that other occasions will present themselves, and that Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed had the merit to honorably represent the region and emerge the best,” she said.
“In this regard, we hope to maintain our cordial relationship as neighbouring countries and we disapprove of any negative comments that are far from the truth.”