Kenya was Friday re-elected to the membership of the African Union Security Council in a move that has significantly boosted the country’s continental influence ahead of her bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council in 2021.
The country’s re-election is a continental vote of confidence in Kenya’s competence and is expected to have positive bearing when elections to the continental body are held.
Kenya won against her northern neighbours Ethiopia and Sudan who staged a spirited campaign but lost after six rounds of voting at the ongoing 34th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council.
The session is being held ahead of the 32nd AU Summit which President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attend.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is also expected in the Ethiopian capital where she will attend the 22nd Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) meeting.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Dr Monica Juma said Kenya’s re-election to the AU Security Council was a demonstration of the goodwill and confidence Kenya enjoys among its African peers. Kenya has held the seat since 2016, representing the East African region.
Dr. Juma said Kenya’s retention of the position is a major boost to the country’s momentum as it seeks to intensify its campaign for the global seat in coming months. For the UNSC seat, Kenya is competing against Djibouti.
Kenya’s performance during the first three years in the AUSC and President Kenyatta’s good working relations with other AU member Heads of State and Governments were the biggest selling points for Kenya.
During the elections, Nigeria retained its membership representing the West African region. Lesotho, Algeria and Burundi were elected to represent Southern, Northern and Central Africa respectively.
The chairmanship of the 15-member AU Security Council rotates monthly. Kenya is scheduled assume leadership next month (March 2019).
The theme of this year’s AU Heads of State and Governments Summit slated for February 10th to 11th is: “The year of refugees, returnees and Internally Displaced Persons”.
Dr. Juma said the Summit will explore and fashion durable solutions to the challenge of forced displacement of populations in Africa.
The continent has several pockets of refugees including those residing in Kenya majorly from Somalia, those in Uganda and Ethiopia from South Sudan and those displaced from DRC Congo spread across the East African region.
The Foreign Affairs CS also spoke about the progress being made towards the full ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACfTA), saying 18 countries, among them Kenya, have so far appended their signatures to the pact. Some 21 countries are required to make the Agreement operational.
“We are hopeful that all African countries will ratify this important Agreement,” said Dr Juma during a press interview in Addis Ababa.
Other key issues to be discussed at the summit include governance, environmental conservation (especially the ban on plastics where Kenya and Rwanda are the continent’s leading lights), infrastructure, science and technology.