A bid by Nairobi to host a high profile United Nations field missions co-ordination office that is presently located in Entebbe, Uganda, has sparked a diplomatic row with Kampala terming it an “unfair” gesture from one of two “friendly neighbours”.
United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres is said to have shortlisted Nairobi to host the UN Regional Service Centre in Africa, triggering Kampala’s rage.
The UN office provides support for UN field missions in Africa.
These include administrative, logistical, information and communications technology services to 13 client missions in Africa; representing over 73 per cent of all United Nations peacekeeping and special political missions worldwide.
The location of the UN office creates new quality jobs and generates business opportunities for suppliers through its operations.
The Entebbe centre is currently supported by 427 approved staff, including 134 international staff, 285 Ugandan staff and eight United Nations volunteers.
Ugandan publication Daily Monitor Monday reported that President Yoweri Museveni has written to the United Nations indicating Kampala’s “displeasure” over the UN’s reported recommendation to drop Entebbe as a UN regional service centre in favour of Kenya.
President Museveni in the letter reportedly sent to the UN last week, has described the UN’s decision as “unfair.”
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry officials including Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Monica Juma and principal secretary Macharia Kamau had not responded to the Business Daily’s queries made through their communication office by the time of going to press.
Hungarian capital, Budapest, and Mexico City were the other two shortlisted recommendations, according to the report.
Mr Museveni in his letter was quoted reminding the UN secretary-general that Uganda was the pioneer host of the office and remains the largest troop contributor to the African Union Peace-keeping Mission in Somalia (Amisom), and hence “deserves to host a UN regional service centre due to the country’s substantial contributions to regional peace and security.”
Mr Museveni was quoted asking Mr Guterres to ensure that Uganda is fairly treated and that UN functions and facilities are “shared equitably among member countries.”
The UN boss is yet to respond to the concerns raised, the paper said.
It said that Mr Kamau had led Nairobi’s spirited bid for Kenya to host the UN centre from 2016.
Mr Kamau, who previously served as Kenya’s representative to the UN, reportedly exploited his vast professional networks and presented Kenya’s plans to build a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi and start of Kenyan Airways’ direct Nairobi-New York flights, due in October, as sweeteners to sway the UN secretariat to accept Kenya’s capacity to handle staff movements and logistical supplies for an expanded regional centre, the Daily Monitor reported.
“The location assessment proposal is contingent on host country consultations...this combination of locations (Budapest, Mexico City, and Nairobi) would provide time zone and regional coverage, ensuring a strong business continuity...” Mr Guterres was quoted saying in a May 1 report to the UN’s advisory committee on administrative and budgetary questions.