Kenya to lobby US backing for UN agency slot

Seth Onyango @SethManex

Kenya will be seeking a slot on the UN Security Council in 2021-2022, as the country pursues greater influence on the geopolitical arena. The revelation came ahead of United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s expected arrival in the country for bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenya will leverage on Tillerson’s visit to sell her candidacy ahead of the elections to be held during the 74th Session of UN General Assembly (UNSC) in June 2020 in New York.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said Kenya’s candidature is informed by the critical role the UNSC play in the maintenance of global peace and stability. Kenya has served twice as a Non-Permanent Member of the UNSC in 1973-1974 and 1997–1998. “As a country we believe that peace, security and development are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and neither can be achieved without the other,” she said.

“Even as we go through the candidature process, we look forward to cooperating with all countries for more robust engagement on issues of peace and stability and where Africa’s and developing countries sustainable development is realised,” added Juma.

She revealed that the county would also continue to lobby for the recruitment of Kenyans in the international system in order to contribute to global programmes and governance. Additionally, Kenya will engage Tillerson on a number of key meetings, which also speak directly to the President’s Big Four agenda.

“For instance the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will focus on securing the future, contributing to a sustainable future, and seeking a more prosperous and fair future for all,” Juma said.

Tillerson’s visit is seeking to reinforce security alliances in Africa, and wrestle diplomatic and political influence from China, which has become the first resort to most countries in the continent.

According to Reuters news agency, the Secretary of State will also seek to smooth relations after US President Donald Trump’s negative utterances which drew sharp responses across the world. Trump reportedly dismissed some African nations as “shithole countries” in January.

He later denied making the comment. “We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa,” Tillerson told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital during his first diplomatic trip to the continent.

“(But) it is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty.” Tillerson arrived in Ethiopia on Wednesday and visited the African Union headquarters yesterday. The complex was fully-funded and built by China and is seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence and access to the continent’s natural resources.

Tillerson is on record criticising “China’s approach” to Africa, which he said encouraged dependency through “opaque contracts” and “predatory loan practices”. The top US diplomat is today expected to discuss Kenya’s military presence in Somaila to restore peace in the troubled nation. Ambassador Juma said the stability and development of Somalia is key for Kenya’s prosperity.

“This explains why Kenya remains a strong voice for Somalia in the international system. This is a role we shall continue to take in order to mobilise the international community to help Somalia back on its feet, to free it from terrorists and set it on a path of development and prosperity,” she said.

She said Kenyan and the other Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) and the Somali Government will petition the UN Security Council to reconsider the resolution on drawdown of Amisom troops, restore the previous troop levels and stay any further reduction to allow recovery of territory still under control of Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups.

The CS said her ministry had embarked on the process of mapping the world for partnerships to leverage on the implementation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda. She said the ministry was seeking to deepen existing ties and create new partnerships in a bid to achieve food security, universal healthcare, decent housing and manufacturing.

“We’re conducting the global mapping exercise to establish the competitive advantage for services and secondly to identify partners who are able to work with our private sector as well as the government to deliver on this agenda at the optimal cost and within the shortest possible time,” she said.

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