People to watch: East Africa
Kenya: Mike Sonko – Dreaming of State House
Nairobi’s newly-elected governor Mike Sonko is one of the country’s fastest-rising political stars. Sonko rose to prominence on his rags-to-riches story. Although Kenya’s parliament accused Sonko of dealing drugs in 2010, that has not stopped him from climbing the political ladder. His popularity is particularly high in the city’s densely-populated slums where he has for years run a free ambulance service and given out cash to those in need. Since his election in August, Sonko has turned his attention to the city’s biggest landfill site in Dandora. He has announced plans to build a recycling plant and has met with Chinese investors. Although he has said he will back deputy president William Ruto’s presidential bid in 2022, there are many who suspect Sonko might fancy his own chances.
Rwanda: Valentine Rugwabiza – A partnership for conflict prevention:
Former Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Valentine Rugwabiza is representing Rwanda at the United Nations headquarters in New York. She took up the post in 2016 and has been calling for more international support for African conflict resolution mechanisms. She explained to reporters: “The UN–African Union partnership could be a collaboration framework through which conflict prevention in Africa can be discussed.” The former head of the Rwanda Development Board is set to continue rising up the ranks of the East African country’s leadership.
Uganda: David Muhoozi – Museveni’s might:
The army has been taking a more active role on the domestic front in Uganda under David Muhoozi, who was appointed chief of defence forces of the Uganda People’s Defence Force in 2017, the highest rank in the country’s military. The army stormed parliament during the heated conflict over the bill to remove presidential term limits from the constitution in late 2017. President Yoweri Museveni is also using the Special Forces Command to deal with high levels of domestic discontent. With Somalia looking unstable yet again and uncertainty in South Sudan, Uganda’s army is preparing for a busy 2018.
This article first appeared in our December/January 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine