By John Ikani
African countries are increasingly leaning on a neutral position in the Russia-Ukraine War as proven by the manner they voted on Russia’s Suspension From UN Human Rights Council.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by invading Russian troops in Ukraine.
Compared to the vote on the resolution to condemn the invasion that was held in early March, more African countries abstained and voted against the decision this time.
Out of 54 nations on the continent, 24 abstained, including Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
Nine voted against the move, including Algeria and Ethiopia, which have both had historically good relations with Moscow. Another 11 had no vote recorded.
Only 10 countries backed the suspension of Russian from the 47-member HRC. They include Chad, Comoros, the Democratic republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Libya, Malawi and Seychelles.
Russia had warned countries at the UN that a yes vote or abstention on a U.S. push to suspend the country from the Human Rights Council will be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences for bilateral ties, according to a note seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Russia’s mission to the UN urged countries to “speak out against the anti-Russian resolution”, according to Reuters.
“It is worth mentioning that not only support for such an initiative, but also an equidistant position in the vote (abstention or non-participation) will be considered as an unfriendly gesture,” the note read. “In addition, the position of each country will be taken into account both in the development of bilateral relations and in the work on the issues important for it within the framework of the U.N.”
On his part, Ukraine’s UN ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, urged UNGA members to “press the ‘yes’ button and to save the Human Rights Council and many lives around the world and in Ukraine.”
“On the other hand, pressing ‘no’ means pulling a trigger and means a red dot on the screen – red as the blood of the innocent lives lost,” Mr Kyslytsya was quoted by Al-Jazeera as saying during a special session on Ukraine.
US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield had earlier decried African States neutrality on the war in Ukraine, stressing that nations of the second largest continent must not continue to sit on the fence.
The ambassador who stressed there could be no neutral ground, explained that the ongoing crisis was not simply a Cold War competition between the West and Russia.