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Kenya is lobbying global allies to support its candidate for the top post at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The campaign could put the country at the frontline of an international migration crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.
“We are talking to all our friends, mostly African states, because we share a belief that this post is for the continent to lose,” a source at the Foreign Affairs ministry told Shipping & Logistics yesterday.
The IMO is the United Nation’s specialised agency with global mandate for maritime safety, a role that was in the spotlight last week after about 700 African migrants on boats drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, off Libya.
Apart from the growing catalogue of mass drowning of African migrants attempting to reach Europe the IMO, which also oversees global maritime security and environment protection, has to deal decisively with Somali pirates who occasionally threaten business at Mombasa port.
Last week, the IMO named Mr Shiundu, a Kenyan Naval Architect, among the six nominees to succeed outgoing Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu who last year communicated his decision not to stand for re-election. Mr Shiundu will fight it out with Andreas Chrysostomou of Cyprus, Vitaly Klyuev of Russia, Ki-tack Lim of South Korea, Maximo Mejia Jr of the Philippines and Andreas Nordseth of Denmark.
The election will be held during the 114th session of the IMO Council which meets from June 29 to July 3.
The successful candidate is expected take over the leadership mantle at the start of next year. The Pan African Association for Port Cooperation (PAPC) has already expressed support for Mr Juvenal.
“On behalf of the Executive Chairman and Council of PAPC, the Executive Secretariat extends its highest compliments and has the honour to inform you that the Government of Kenya has requested the Association’s support for its candidates”, Mr Michael Luguje, the Lagos-based PAPC’s Executive Secretary said in a statement issued yesterday.
The statement adds: “We wish to recall that since the establishment of the IMO in 1958, Africa has not yet had the opportunity to occupy the post… It is therefore the considered conviction of the PAPC that this bold step taken by Kenya would give Africa her maiden opportunity to produce a secretary- general of this very august organisation.”
Born Juvenile Muka Shiundu in 1957, the Kenyan candidate, currently working at the IMO’s London Headquarters as the head of Africa (Anglophone) section, has spent nearly all his adult life in the maritime sector.
Prior to joining IMO in August 1997, Mr Shiundu was a general manager of the Mombasa-based African Marine and General Engineering Company Limited, the largest shipyard on the East African coast, having risen through the ranks.
His bio data on the IMO website indicates that he also provided maritime consultancy services to a number of UN agencies as well as the World Bank between 1990 and 1996.
He was also influential in the 1998 efforts to open the seaports of Somalia to the international community. Mr Shiundu graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Naval Architecture and Shipbuilding at the University of Newcastle in 1983 and a Master degree in Marine Engineering at the World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden in 1986.
– Business Daily