UNSC vote: Will Kenya, Djibouti withdraw in favour of third member state? - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

UNSC vote: Will Kenya, Djibouti withdraw in favour of third member state?

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (right), President of the seventy-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly, presides over the elections. At left is Movses Abelian, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM).
The contest between Kenya and Djibouti is on Thursday afternoon headed to the second round after both countries failed to acquire the two-thirds majority vote.
Kenya and Djibouti are seeking to replace South Africa at the top UN organ for the 2021-2022 period.
UNSC rules require that under group A for Africa and Asia/Pacific region, a candidate must garner at least 128 votes out of the 192 member states.
While Kenya garnered 113 votes in the first round, Djibouti got 78 votes, leaving the General Assembly with no option but to head for the second round of voting.
The Wednesday election started at 4pm Kenyan time (EAT) with Venezuela being barred from casting its ballot as it is still in arrears for its membership in the UN.
Out of the three candidates submitted under group A, Kenya and India were endorsed candidates.
Djibouti refused the AU’s endorsement of Kenya as its candidate and opted to conduct parallel campaigns for the seat.
Nairobi was thus banking on the African Union endorsement and its own networks abroad to ride the Djibouti challenge.
Turkey won the Presidency of the General Assembly.
The UN’s Security Council has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
It enjoys robust powers, including the imposition of sanctions and authorisation of military action when international peace is threatened.
Only five UN member states – the US, UK, Russia, China and France – have permanent seats.
They are known as the P5 while the other 188 member states can be elected to non-renewable two-year terms.
Only 10 member states can fill those non-permanent slots at a time meaning at any one time, there are 15 member states sitting on the Council.
While the Council’s decisions are taken by a qualified majority, requiring support from nine of its fifteen members, only the P5 can individually exercise a veto to block a decision.
If it wins, Nairobi will join the likes of India, Mexico, Norway and Ireland among the 10 non-permanent members, who will work alongside the permanent five (Russia, China, UK, US, France) to pass resolutions touching on global peace and security in the 2021/22 period.
In accordance with the General Assembly's rules for the geographic distribution of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, and established practice, the members are drawn from  Africa-1, from Asia-1, from Latin American and the Caribbean Group (GRULAC)-1, and two seats from the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).
Kenya has served twice previously as a member of the Council in 1973-74 and 1997-98.
In the 1972 election, Australia, Austria, Indonesia, Kenya, and Peru were elected as the five new non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for two-year mandates commencing on 1 January 1973.
This was the first time Kenya, Austria and Indonesia made it to the council for the first time.
Then, the General Assembly had a membership of 132 member states
Voting was conducted on a single ballot with Kenya garnering 112 votes in the first round.
The 1996 election was held on 21 October during the 51st session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Kenya, Costa Rica, Japan, Portugual and Sweden were elected by the General Assembly as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for two-year terms commencing on 1 January 1997.
A total of eight candidates vied for the five seats.
Only the single seat for the African Group was uncontested thus Kenya was the only candidate.
Voting proceeded by secret ballot and Kenya garnered 172 votes out of the minimum required of 112 in the first round.
There were 181 ballots in each of the elections.
With Kenya, Japan, and Sweden securing their respective victories in the first round of voting, and India having been defeated, a second round of voting was called for to ascertain the remaining two seats.
Bolivia stepped down from its candidacy, letting Costa Rica elected with an overwhelming majority of votes.
Will Kenya-Djibouti battle be a replica of Netherlands and Itally?
Nairobi’s diplomats are working harder in lobbying countries across the world for one more vote each to see off Djibouti.
In his campaigns, President Uhuru Kenyatta wrote personal letters to each of the countries asking for their support.
But after Wednesday’s vote, the Star has been informed that the diplomats have embarked on serious lobbying to secure the seat.
In the event that either country manages to get the 128 votes, the winner will be announced, filling the seat.
If it happens that neither gets the minimum required vote, the election will head to round three, leaving the contest open for any other country to contest. This however can be avoided if Djibouti withdraws from the race or vice versa.
A similar instance happened during the 70th session in 2017 where Netherlands and Italy were forced to share the seat after five rounds of voting.
Kenya had also expressed her candidature to be Africa’s representative but withdrew from the race in favour of Ethiopia during an African Union Summit.
In the first round of voting, Netherlands got 125 votes out of the required majority of 128. Italy got 113.
This moved them to second round where Netherlands got 99 votes while Italy got 92.
In the fourth round, Netherlands maintained at 96 votes while Italy moved up to 96 votes.
In the fifth round, both countries tied at 95 votes.
After the five rounds of inconclusive voting, Bert Koenders and Paolo Gentiloni, Foreign Ministers of the Netherlands and Italy respectively, announced a proposal whereby the Netherlands and Italy would split the two-year term with each country serving one year.
Such arrangements were relatively common in deadlocked elections starting in the late 1950s until 1966, when the Security Council was enlarged.
Netherlands’ and Italy’s deal was however the first time in over five decades that two members agreed to split a term.
If such a deadlock happens on Thursday, it will only be resolved  by Kenya and Djibouti striking a deal to serve one-year terms each, or both withdrawing from the race in favor of a third member state.

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