Kenya bid for UN seat gets boost as Africa pushes for more clout

Kenya’s aspiration to sit on the United Nations Security Council got a boost at the just ended Africa-Japan summit where it was resolved that the continent would demand two permanent seats.

It would represent the biggest disruption in the world order yet where the most developed countries control a tight grip on the United Nations whose mandate is to maintain international peace and security, trade, among others.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has been on a global campaign seeking support in the next June round of elections to fill the five non-permanent seats of the UN top decision-making arm.

Endorsement by Japan, one of the world’s richest and powerful countries, of Africa’s quest is the most significant development in addressing what the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) described as “historical injustices”.

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Other resolutions of the conference that concluded yesterday included agreements that the Japanese private sector would lead in bilateral engagements with African countries to address productivity and unemployment.

Kenya had the biggest delegation to the summit of all African countries, mostly made up of members from the business community, led by Richard Ngatia, the president of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Japan’s backing of Africa in its push for a say in the world politics is interpreted as a response to the swelling influence of its arch-rival China, which is currently the biggest source of infrastructure financing.

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“We acknowledge the historical injustices against Africa … and express support for full African representation in the Security Council, through not less than two Permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of Permanent membership including the right to veto, and the five non-permanent seats…” reads the resolutions.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are the permanent members of the Security Council, while South Africa, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast are the African nations on the list of nine current non-permanent members. Non-permanent members serve for a two-year rotational term, with the next vacancies coming up next year.

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Sitting on the Security Council would grant Kenya a bigger voice in tackling the ever present threat posed by Somalia-based militant group al-Shabaab, which has staged several deadly attacks in the country.

Just this week, Kenya’s push to have the militants as an international terrorist group on the same level as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State flopped after the UN turned down the request.

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