Kenya seeks AU clarification on Djibouti contesting UN seat

Thursday February 6 2020

A recent UN Security Council meeting in New York.

A recent UN Security Council meeting in New York. Kenya wants to seek clarification from the African Union on why Djibouti continues to campaign for the non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council despite losing an endorsement vote to Nairobi last year. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Kenya has questioned why Djibouti continues to campaign for the non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council despite losing an endorsement vote to Nairobi last year.

During the African Union Ordinary Summit in Addis Ababa this weekend, Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo's task is to seek clarification from the continental body on why Djibouti continues to campaign for the seat.

In a press release on Wednesday, Djibouti said it would formally challenge Kenya’s endorsement by the African Union.

The Horn of Africa country argues that the AU rules of rotation automatically gives it nomination as it has served fewer times than Kenya.

Djibouti has served one term on the UN Security Council (1993-1994) and Kenya two terms (1977-1978 and 1997-1998).

The AU Summit this weekend is supposed to discuss ‘silencing guns’, a reference to efforts to stop violence on the continent.


President Uhuru Kenyatta is skipping this year’s Summit, to attend to burial arrangements for former president Daniel arap Moi.

Instead, Ms Omamo will lead Kenya’s delegation to Ethiopia during the 33rd Ordinary Session.

It will be the first time President Uhuru Kenyatta would have skipped an AU Summit since June 2018 during the Summit in Mauritania. At the time, then Foreign CS Monica Juma led the Kenyan delegation.

On Wednesday, Ms Omamo met Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat at the AU headquarters. A dispatch released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry indicated Kenya had reiterated its commitment to “the aspirations of the continental body and reaffirmed that Kenya will continue to play its rightful role in promotion of peace and security in the region.”

But Ms Omamo also referred to AU’s endorsement of Kenya’s bid for the UN Security Council seat for 2021-2022. A vote is due at the UN headquarters next June and Kenya is demanding what it calls “the need to protect the integrity of the Union and fidelity to its procedures,” a reference to its decisive vote last September which saw Kenya defeat Djibouti to become the AU endorsed candidate.

Traditionally, the African Union routinely fronts common candidates for global positions especially at the United Nations. And since 2007, the AU had stuck to a resolution where candidates are endorsed by the body, through a vote or consensus, before competing. This often leads to unopposed candidates.

Diplomats at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Nairobi told the Nation that Kenya wants clarification because Djibouti’s continued campaign for the seat amounts to defiance “of the collective will of the (African) Union…and effectively threatens the fidelity and undermines the integrity of the continent’s agreed processes and outcomes.”

Nairobi hopes to bring the matter on the table during the Summit, to persuade Djibouti to “abandon the injurious quest,” according to one official familiar with the matter.

Djibouti has criticised the procedure adopted by the continental body, saying the Executive Council of the AU did not in fact approve of the vote.

If Djibouti sticks to the race, it means the eastern Africa region will have two contenders for the first time since 2000 when Mauritius reneged on the endorsement for Sudan. But that was before the 2007 resolution.