Africa – Hooo?

NEW DELHI, JUNE 28: As
India’s campaign for a permanent seat at the Security Council enters a
decisive phase, the Government is dispatching a major lobbying mission
to a crucial battleground in the current effort to reform the United
Nations — Africa.

Accompanied
by senior officials, Minister of State for External Affairs Rao
Inderjit Singh is heading tomorrow to Sirte, Libya where ministers and
heads of government are gathering for a summit of the 53-nation African
Union next week.

 

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India’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Nirupam Sen will also join forces with Singh.

As
India and its partners look for the magical figure of 128 votes in
support of Security Council expansion, the 53 votes of the African
Union add up to a solid block.

The
Indian mission would like to persuade the African Union to endorse the
framework resolution on UN Security Council expansion that India,
Japan, Germany, and Brazil plan to introduce in the UN General Assembly
next month. It would also want to consolidate support for its own
candidature.

On both fronts, India has its work cut out at Sirte.

At the
request of the African nations, the Group of Four aspirants for
permanent seats had agreed to delay the introduction of the resolution
until after the African Union summit.

The
G-4 countries have invited two African states, to be chosen by the
African Union, on to their joint slate for new permanent members.

But
the African Union is badly divided on which two candidates among many
to select. Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa are the front-runners, and
Senegal, Kenya and Libya are also in the fray.

With
China and the United States opposing the G-4 framework for expansion,
gaining the African support has become all-important. But it is by no
means clear if the African Union will come to any decision at the Sirte
summit.

Senior
Indian official here expressed the hope that the AU’s decisions ‘‘will
not lead to a further delay’’ in the introduction of the framework
resolution that is the first step in the long road to successful
Security Council expansion.

One
potential negative outcome could be an AU decision to appoint a
ministerial committee to negotiate with G-4 on its draft. These
potential talks on procedure could be long and counterproductive,
analysts here said.

Ideally
India would like the AU to choose two candidates to represent Africa as
permanent members of the UNSC. India has been underlining the
‘‘historic opportunity’’ that awaits Africa in the United Nations and
urging the leaders of the continent not to throw it away.

Short
of that, India could live with a decision to let the members of AU to
vote according to their free will in the General Assembly.

While there is broad empathy in Africa for the Indian candidature, Delhi has many amends to make.

Many
of its recent pledges on economic cooperation with various African
nations as well as its support for the broader African development
initiatives remain to be redeemed. Rao Inderjit Singh, hopefully, is
well equipped to revive India’s credibility in Africa as a partner.

About papillion

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