Kenya and Djibouti cross fingers over UN Security Council post

Friday June 12 2020

United Nations General Assembly in session. United Nations members are scheduled to vote on June 17 for new non-permanent members of the Security Council. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


United Nations members are scheduled to vote on June 17 for new non-permanent members of the Security Council in a race that could test future relations of Kenya and Djibouti.

The vote will be conducted virtually although it will still be a secret ballot, due to measures meant to contain spread of coronavirus.

Kenya, Djibouti, India, Mexico, Canada, Ireland and Norway have all fronted their candidature, but the actual race is between Kenya and Djibouti, two African countries bidding to replace South Africa on the UN’s most powerful organ.

Traditionally, each region of the world is allocated seats to the Council, but the voting is a formality as the regions often agree on a candidate.

For Kenya and Djibouti, the voting will be the climax of a bare knuckle campaigns that has forced African countries to take sides and at the African Union Summit last February, Kenya complained of Djibouti’s “dishonourable’’ campaign.

Diplomatic overtures as well as an attempt for mediation by then AU chairperson Abdel Fattah al-Sissi seemed to have failed to have one drop from the race. Nairobi won the African Union endorsement last August, but Djibouti stuck in the race, arguing the AU decision was “illegal.”


“This endorsement was final and not subject to review,” Kenya said arguing the AU had “unequivocally affirmed the decision to endorse Kenya” in a note circulated to AU members then.

“Kenya considers this matter no longer solely about the candidature, but about the values and principles we have all chosen to abide by. Kenya therefore distances itself from any campaign that brings dishonour and disrepute to the African Union and any of its member states.”

While Kenya cited the endorsement, Djibouti claimed it was Africa’s "legitimate" candidate.

“Djibouti has never shown uncontrolled appetite. It has patiently waited its turn,” argued Mohamed Siad Doualeh, Djibouti’s Permanent Representative to the UN, when he launched the campaign last December in New York.