ADDIS ABABA - The African Union has opened the floor for aspirants of the upcoming race for the chairperson and deputy positions of the continental body’s Commission to file their papers, or drop out in favour of rivals.

Aspirants are to submit their CVs to their respective countries, statements of vision and how they intend to address emerging challenges on the continent. It is the first step for aspirants to show intent to serve as leaders of the African Union Secretariat.

But it will not be the most difficult. Four aspirants have already announced publicly they will seek to contest. They include Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Somalia’s former Foreign Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam, and former Seychellois Vice President Vincent Meriton. Their countries had already backed them.

Under the current African Union rules on regulations, the seat for the African Union Commission chairperson will only be contested by countries in the eastern region while the deputy will be contested by the northern African region.

Depending on whether a male or female candidate wins the chairperson seat, the deputy will then come from the opposite gender.

According to an election notice publicised last week, the AU said candidates will file applications through their member states. But the final candidates on the ballot will be determined after a lengthy procedure that will also see them vetted by a panel of experts before the polls in February 2025.

All the eight positions of the Commission — chairperson, deputy and six commissioners — are up for grabs. But each region will be given slots based on what leaders agreed on as a fair “principle of inter-regional rotation.”