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Kenya takes battle for Security Council seat against Djibouti to Saudi Arabia

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Battle lines have been drawn ahead of United Nations Security Council polls scheduled for next year, with Kenya and Djibouti wrestling for one of five non-permanent slots, Garowe Online reports.

In September, Kenya's bid received a major boost after winning the African Union vote in Addis Ababa. AU's 38 members endorsed Kenya while 18 others voted for Djibouti.

Despite losing African vote, Djibouti has defiantly intensified the campaigns to clinch the seat, banking on recent support from Francophone nations and 22-member Arab League.

But on Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta left for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the heart of Arab League nations where he will officially campaign for Kenya's bid.

The president left silently at around 4 pm local time, a state official from Interior Ministry said, adding that he will anchor his trip on 'bilateral relations and Security Council polls'.

"The main subject of the trip is bilateral talks with Saudi Arabia. But Kenya's bid for the Security Council seat will also feature. The president is serious about it and believes Arab League nations are important in his pursuit," said the source in confidence on Tuesday.

Uhuru was in Sochi, Russia last week where he also campaigned for Kenya. Uhuru, the official said, believes Kenya's presence in the UNSC will help her push for strategic decisions given the country is in active war against Al-Shabaab militants.

Recently, Kenya lost bid to have the group designated as a terrorist group under UN resolution. Both the US and Somalia objected to Kenya's application.

President Kenyatta last week dispatched Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba to Baku, Azerbaijan, to represent him at the 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam).

In Baku, Namwamba mounted a campaign, with the highlight being his address to the summit on Saturday. He emphasized Kenya's role in promoting peace and stability in Africa.

"Kenya hosts the largest refugee camp in Africa. We have also been part of a smooth transition in DR Congo. We have provided humanitarian assistance in Mozambique among others. We are keen to ensure silencing of guns in Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa," he said.

"As home to UN biggest offices in the south, Kenya is committed to supporting UN sustainable goals. Kenya continues to support peacekeeping as manifested in Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan," added Namwamba, a former Budalang'i legislator.

The summit was opened by an outgoing chair, President Nicholas Maduro of Venezuela and his successor President Illham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. Kenya believes NAM support is indispensable.

Djibouti's Foreign Affairs minister Mohamed Yusuf has been leading campaigns to thwart Kenya's bid. The Horn of Africa nation will not be presented as Africa's representative.

The polls will take place during the 74th United Nations General Assembly of Heads of States in New York in June 2020. Winners of the five slots, usually one from each continent, will serve for 2021-2022.

It's not, however, clear when Uhuru will leave Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Kenyan Foreign Affairs minister Monica Juma reiterated recently that Nairobi will 'not leave any stone unturned' in pursuit of UNSC seat.

Reporting by Abuga Makori in Nairobi; Editing by Omar Nor


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