In a few days, for the first time in the history of the institution, the Comoros should take over the presidency of the African Union, after the withdrawal of Kenya's candidacy.
Kenya has given up on the presidency of the African Union (AU). For the year 2023, at least. While the archipelago was to take over the presidency of the continental institution this year, Nairobi had positioned itself and overshadowed Azali Assoumani. The President of the Union of the Comoros had launched, in the middle of last year, a vast lobbying operation to try to make his voice heard. The Comorian head of state saw a golden opportunity, less than two years from a decisive presidential election in his country, plunged into an unprecedented economic crisis. Azali Assoumani had taken advantage of the post-election period in Kenya to advance his pawns.
Kenya finally left the way open to the Comoros. A victory for this small country of just over a million inhabitants, not necessarily used to playing a continental role. The news fell at the very end of last year. During his speech to the Nation on December 30, Azali Assoumani announced the news to his compatriots.
Between 2021 and 2022, Comoros has already obtained the second vice-presidency of the AU. They were then aiming, as tradition dictates, for the first vice-presidency. But Kenya had positioned itself and overshadowed the Comoros, which jostled to prevent Nairobi from taking away this post which automatically leads to the presidency of the African institution.
After Macky Sall in 2022, it was the turn of a country from the East African zone to take over the presidency of the AU this year. The fact that Kenya applied had greatly displeased Assoumani, who had engaged in a diplomatic showdown with Nairobi. Kenya had put forward a sizeable argument: the presidency of the AU should not return two years in a row to a French-speaking country. Uhuru Kenyatta, then president of Kenya, insisted on the fact that “an English-speaking country was needed to occupy the presidency after a French-speaking country”.
According to The Journal of Mayotte, after the Union of the Comoros had recognized Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, Algeria had worked in favor of Kenya. Just like South Africa, closer to Nairobi than to Moroni. Assoumani finally took advantage of the post-election period in Kenya and the arrival at the head of Kenya of William Ruto to assert their rights.
A decisive Assoumani-Ruto meeting
Indeed, the presidents of the two competing countries finally organized a meeting in Washington, at the time of the United States-Africa summit. Ruto would have, during this meeting, agreed to withdraw from the race for the presidency of the AU.
Azali Assoumani, during his speech to the Nation, underlined "the elegance" and "the greatness of the Kenyan nation". He made a point of expressing his “gratitude towards Kenya and more particularly (…) William Ruto, who had the elegance and kindness to withdraw his country's candidacy for the presidency of the African Union”. A "noble" and "wise" decision, in the words of the Comorian Head of State, which "will allow the Heads of State and Government of the African Union to decide on the question of the presidency of our continental organization ".
If everything is not yet complete, everything seems to be going in the direction of the Comoros, which should therefore take the presidency of the AU next month, during an ordinary summit in Addis Ababa. The Comoros had never taken the helm of the African Union before.