Kenya gets UN Security Council seat

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Thando Mnkandhla

Windhoek - Kenya has been elected a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, beating Djibouti in a close contest for the post designated for Africa on the powerful organ.

Both countries failed to get the required two-thirds vote win in the initial round of balloting last week Wednesday at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA. Kenya had 113 votes to Djibouti's 78, against the two-thirds threshold of 128.

This triggered a runoff the next day where 191 of the UN General Assembly’s 193 voting members cast ballots. Kenya secured 129 of these to Djibouti’s 68.

The east African country will join Niger and Tunisia, who were elected unopposed, and they will replace South Africa, Cote d'Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea for a two-year term.

The UN Security Council has five permanent members (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) who have veto power, and 10 non-permanent rotating seats that do not wield the veto.

In a media statement after the vote, Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Raychelle Omamo said, "Kenya remains a safe pair of hands. I reaffirm Kenya's firm commitment to a rules based ethos, buttressed by robust multilateralism, secured by the UN Charter and International Law. Kenya anticipates continued support to ensure global peace and security for sustainable development and shared prosperity."

Djibouti’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, took to microblogging site Twitter to thank the countries that had supported his country’s ultimately unsuccessful bid.

"Kenya has just been elected. We congratulate them and wish them all the best for their future. I congratulate all of our ministers, diplomats and senior officials for their dedication to this cause, but this is partly postponed.”

Kenya had offered its candidacy for the non-permanent seat for the 2013-2014 and 2018-2019 terms, but withdrew on both occasions in favour of Rwanda and Ethiopia respectively. In 2017 when Kenya declared its candidature for the 2020-2021 term, little to no resistance was expected until Djibouti stepped forward and expressed its interest.

The African Union Executive Council of Ministers on July 5, 2019 tasked the AU Permanent Representatives Committee to select a consensus candidate for the East African bloc and in August of the same year settled on Kenya.

However, Djibouti said Kenya had a previous stint on the Security Council in 1997-1998 and should thus step aside in the interest of rotation, setting the stage for a global diplomatic charm offensive by the two nations.

The AU, as per the Ezulwini Consensus, has been agitating for a reform of the United Nations system to make it more democratic and better reflect the realities of the modern world instead of remaining steeped in the power relations that characterised the world at the end of World War II when the Allies apportioned themselves permanent Security Council seats with veto power (the P5).

The AU wants two permanent seats for Africa with veto power, should the veto system be retained, or alternatively an end to the veto on the Security Council.

The veto allows the P5 in the Security Council to disregard any decisions reached by the 193 members of the General Assembly.

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