President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta speaks at the 74th Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters on September 25, 2019 in New York. Johannes EISELE / AFP

Kenya and Djibouti are locking horns to replace South Africa as a non-permanent member in the United Nations Security Council-voting for which will be held on 17th June.

The UN Security Council has 15 members, five permanent and 10 non-permanent who are elected on a regional-rotation basis. The non-permanent members are elected for a two-year term.

This diplomatic battle could test future relations between Kenya and Djibouti.  The voting will see the climax of what is described as a ‘fistfight’, which has forced African nations to take sides.

In the last African Union summit in February, Kenya complained of Djibouti’s “dishonorable” campaign.

Failed mediation

The mediation efforts and backroom diplomacy by the then AU chairperson Abdel Fattah al-Sissi failed as both the nations stood firm on their candidature.

Kenya secured the African Union endorsement last year, but Djibouti entered the race saying the decision by the AU was “illegal”.

Security analysts say ‘Djibouti may be pressurized by foreign powers not to withdraw its candidacy’.

Normally Africa speaks in a single voice on global issues, but the split now looks like a war between Francophone and Anglophone Africa.

The vote on Wednesday-17th June will be a virtual one-albeit a secret one-due to COVID 19 pandemic, to decide which the East African Nation will take a seat for the next two years.

Already Tunisia and Niger are non-permanent members of the UNSC, whose terms will expire in 2021.