But according to Frederick Golooba Mutebi, a regional researcher and analyst, candidates are mistaken when they assume that they will win if their regional bloc rallies behind them. He points at the southern SADC region which appears highly organised and cohesive but has a tough time winning slots.
“SADC is highly organised but you should see what happened to their candidate,” he says, “It is more complicated than that.
“Coalescing around regional candidates is one factor but as they eventually go through different stages of voting, the leaders begin to zero down on somebody’s experience and other attributes,” Golooba says.
Robert Ssebunya, a lecturer of international relations at Nkumba University agreed. He told The Independent that Amina eventually lost because, “the individual and their past record of accomplishment counts more at this level.”
“I think the candidates were assessed more on their individual character and contributions to the AU in comparison to the regions where they came from,” Ssebunya says.
This could have worked for Mahamat. He has worked with the AU for a long time on peace and security issues, participated in the peace negotiations in South Sudan, and played a role in developing the AU’s maritime strategy. Mahamat is also a former Chadian prime minister and current foreign affairs minister at a time when N’Djamena is leading the regional fight against the armed group Boko Haram. Some of the leaders definitely appreciate his knowledge and experience.
Compared to him, Amina lacked the weight and experience.
It also appears Chad’s President Idris Deby; who until January held the AU rotational leadership, used his role to sell his Foreign Minister, Mahamat.
Some analysts say Amina’s closeness to President Kenyatta led to questions about her potential to be neutral regarding Kenya. That, according to sources, was the view of SADC members who abstained after their candidate Pelonomi Moitoi from Botswana got only 10 votes in the first round of voting.
“We didn’t vote for Amina because we feel she is so close to her president that this might cloud her judgment as she could use the position to advance Kenya’s agenda,” said a diplomat from South Africa who did not wish to be named.
Amina has also been a fierce critic of the ICC which indicted Kenyatta and the Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto. Amina’s anti-ICC stance did not appeal to leaders that are still in favour of the Hague-based court, which up to now is accused of bias against African leaders.
Amina’s candidature was also hurt by Kenya’s refusal to state its stand on the disputed territory of Western Sahrawi clear.
Apparently, the Kenyan team refused to publicly clarify their position on Morocco’s return to the AU fold, something which irked the pro-Western Sahrawi camp who vehemently opposed the return of Morocco.
Other observers, such as the renowned Ugandan pollster, Dr. Patrick Wakida, the executive director of Research World International, a Kampala-based opinion poll firm, the lack of cohesion in the EAC is a result of immaturity of the bloc.
“There is a lot of mistrust amongst the six member countries and this explains why the members are yet to achieve political federation.”
Going forward, Minister Okello Oryem says the EAC should realise its candidates cannot win positions based on bloc votes alone.
“We need to find a way of consolidating our position with the SADC countries and Arab North Africa when it comes to such contentious issues,” he told The Independent.