UN permanent seat: Nigeria taunts South Africa, Egypt

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With the looming possibility of a permanent seat allotted to Africa in the United Nations Security Council, African countries have began to lock horns in a diplomatic tug-of-war over which country will occupy the seat. Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Senegal, Kenya, and Botswana have all shown interest.

According to Dr. Wafula Okumu, a Canadian-based analyst on African Affairs, South Africa is widely seen as a favorite to fill one of the UN permanent seats that will be set aside for Africa at the Security Council. He says that South Africa has more “credibility” among the G-8 nations than the other African contenders.

Senegal a French proxy?

South Africa accounts for nearly 40 percent of Africa’s economy. Libya, despite its oil wealth is still recovering from the UN isolation that ended in 2003. Kenya has a weak economy and is presently too bogged down in domestic politics to carry out a credible continental and international campaign. Senegal’s late entry will also be costly as it is already experiencing difficulties in selling itself on a continent where it is seen as a French proxy.

As African countries continue to jostle towards a possible permanent seat in the UN Security Council, South Africa has leaned towards a partnership with Brazil, India and Japan. Nigeria is leaning towards China and Russia while Egypt is banking on U.S support. Senegal has very strong backing from France but its candidacy will automatically be vetoed by China as it is one of the few countries in the world that has established diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Not black enough

South Africa’s emergence as the clear favorite has not been well received by its rival, Nigeria, which has invested enormous hopes in the “African permanent seat” on the Security Council. To put a hurdle in South Africa’s well-oiled diplomatic machine, Nigeria has dismissed South Africa and Egypt as not being “black enough” to represent Africa.

However, the U.S, considered as a Hegemony, may have the most important say on the issue. And by returning the U.N. ambassador’s position to membership in the president’s cabinet, the United States government under President Barack Obama has signaled to the world its intention to provide one more conduit for the voice of the world to reach the highest levels of U.S. government. Although the U.S has not endorsed any of the African models, it is openly supporting only Japan’s bid, with veto rights. While France and Russia have called for veto rights for all new members other Permanent Members have kept their counsel on the issue.

AU failure

The African Union so far has not only failed to pick a candidate for the potential permanent African seat on the United Nations Security Council, but has also failed to forge an accord on how Africa should be represented at the security council of the United Nations. Developing countries have long resented the clout of the veto-holders on the council, whose composition stems from the post-war balance of power. And these nations agree the body needs to be enlarged, but there is no agreement on how this will be executed.

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