Photograph — CGTN Africa

In the race for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Djibouti has said it will be ignoring the recent African Union (AU) vote which went in favour of Kenya for the position.

The Djiboutian government had earlier decided to respect the election on Wednesday which endorses Kenya’s candidature for the UN seat. After the secret vote in Addis Ababa, Djibouti’s ambassador to the AU, Mohammed Idris Farah, said his country conceded defeat and congratulated Nairobi for the victory.

But a day later, the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Mohamed Siad Doualeh, revealed that Djibouti will continue to vie for the non-permanent seat and would be taking the campaign directly to the UN member states.

“Djibouti reaffirms its decision to continue its bid to secure a seat at the Security Council for the period 2021-2022,” the diplomat said in a tweet, in contradiction to his colleagues in Ethiopia. “We thank all UN member states that have formally expressed to support Djibouti.”

The contest between Djibouti and Kenya reached the AU vote after both IGAD member nations failed to agree by consensus who should be Africa’s candidate. For Djibouti, rescinding its earlier decision shows a lack of faith in a process it took part in three times.

Kenya scored 37 votes against Djibouti’s 13 in the vote on Wednesday. The tally was reached in the second round after Nairobi had defeated Djibouti 34-15 with two abstentions in the first round. The latest voting exercise comes after an earlier one on August 5, where Kenya defeated Djibouti but failed to garner the two-thirds majority required, the East African reports.

Djibouti’s U-turn on the matter is despite the fact that it was among the 55 member states that agreed on an item in the communiqué of the AU Assembly of States Parties in January, which backs a decision for the continental body to be fronting candidates “to act in its name and on its behalf.” In other words, while the continental body itself has no vote at the UN, its member states assented to an agreement to vote for candidates the AU endorses.

Regardless of Djibouti’s stand, however, the continental backing means Kenya becomes Africa’s sole candidate for the race to win the non-permanent seat for 2021-2022, an ambition Nairobi declared in 2018.

“This endorsement is an affirmation that Kenya has remained true to the decisions and aspirations of the African Union and confirms that it is a safe and dependable pair of hands,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet, Dr Monica Juma said in a statement on Wednesday.

But even with this endorsement which often guarantees a candidate the win, Kenya must still get at least two-thirds votes of the UN member states when the election is held. Failure to garner the given majority in the first round could reopen the race to another challenger from the region for the non-permanent seat. This is according to the rules of procedure at the UN General Assembly. Consequently, Kenya needs at least 129 votes when the election is held in New York next June.

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