Surprising Rift Over Africa Seat in UN Security Council

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) – The non-permanent Africa seat at the United Nations Security Council was the subject of a heated duel between two African countries who lobbied fiercely for the powerful prize.

On a second round of balloting, the seat went to Kenya which garnered 129 votes against 62 votes for Djibouti. In the first round of voting on June 17, Kenya had 113 votes against Djibouti’s 78, but needed at least 128 votes to win.

Reports from Asmara’s foreign affairs department had stressed that Djibouti would offer “alternative leadership”.

“A vote for Djibouti is a vote for Africa,” their campaign slogan pledged. “We’re your partner for peace.”

They argued that Kenya was unfit for the UN seat given its inability to solve maritime disputes with Somalia. The two nations are currently facing each other at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Kenya’s foreign affairs minister Monica Juma took a swipe at Djibouti, accusing the country of failing to respect an African Union vote in August 2019 where members settled on Kenya as the official representative of the continent.

The victory means Nairobi can, from January 2021, return to the UN’s most powerful body after 23 years. Kenya will be part of key decision making on global peace and security. Some of the decisions may include sanctions, authorizing use of force to preserve peace as well as electing judges of the International Court of Justice.

Kenya’s bruising campaign to capture the United Nations Security Council seat has exposed fractures within the African Union.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba denied there was friction between the two countries. He told The EastAfrican: “Djibouti has been a very worthy rival in this bid, never an enemy. The campaigns and the vote are behind us now.”

“We want to quickly rally the region, the continent and the globe around the issues that matter, which are encapsulated in Kenya’s 10-point agenda,” he said.

Some of the issues in Kenya’s 10-point agenda include fighting terrorism, empowering youth and women, environmental conservation, human rights and justice, and sustainable development goals.

The 15-member Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 elected members with seats allocated to regional groups and five new members elected every year.

Kenya now joins Norway, Ireland, India and Mexico, which were elected on June 17 as non-permanent members for a two-year term starting on January 1, 2021.

The East African country will replace South Africa in the Security Council. [IDN-InDepthNews – 23 June 2020]

Photo: Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) with Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (right) during his state visit to Kenya in May 2018. Source: African News.

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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