This Wednesday, March 2, at the UN General Assembly, a resolution “condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine” was adopted. How did African countries vote?
A week after the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, the UN General Assembly has taken an official position. In this text voted yesterday, the UN condemned "the declaration of February 24, 2022 in which the Russian Federation announced the launch of a 'special military operation' in Ukraine". The United Nations say they are “seriously concerned”.
A resolution which was adopted with 141 votes for - the UN has 193 member states -. Several African countries preferred neutrality: fifteen countries of the continent abstained, while five States did not vote. For its part, Eritrea voted against.
Algeria, equal to itself
The Algerian vote was obviously one of the most scrutinized. First ally of Russia on the continent, Algiers abstained, thus showing that its diplomacy remained equal to itself, dignified and sovereign. In the midst of the “gas war”, and while Europe is counting on Algerian gas, Algeria has shown that it cannot be told what to do.
Western countries, according to Vladimir Putin, “use pressure, intimidation and blackmail against African sovereign governments. They use such methods in an attempt to regain lost influence and dominance in their former colonies in a new form and thus be able to derive maximum benefit from exploiting the continent.” Algeria, the only country to have taken out its settlers by arms, seems definitely not to be concerned by this remark.
Historically in line with Algiers, South Africa also abstained from voting. For Pretoria, it is above all the “Africanity” of its diplomacy that prevails. South Africa only gets involved diplomatically, because of its history, when pan-African causes are threatened.
Burundi and Angola, with their history closely linked to Marxism, also abstained.
Macky Sall and Senegal "emancipate themselves"
Le Senegal also abstained. Described by the press in recent years as a "diplomatic miracle" in terms of its ability to work with both China and the United States, or even with France and Turkey, Senegal has surprised by its recent positions. Since taking office as the new president of the African Union (AU), Macky Sall has sought to reconcile the pan-African body with its Third World values.
This was particularly evident during the last AU Summit, when Israel's observer status was frozen. By refusing to vote for the UN resolution, Macky Sall is gradually moving away from his image of "President Françafrique" and is now taking strong positions.
Museveni, straight in his boots
For Uganda, which also chose to abstain, it is a question of maintaining its solid diplomatic relations with Moscow. Kampala enjoys a privileged relationship with Russia, in particular thanks to the numerous commercial exchanges between the two countries. Uganda and Russia have embassies in their respective capitals, as well as a vibrant Economic Commission, working under two cooperation agreements dating back to 2008. Believing that “Westerners must stop lecturing us”, Museveni, the Ugandan president, remains faithful to his line.
Sassou N'Guesso does not allow his conduct to be dictated
The vote of Congo-Brazzaville, which also decided to abstain, highlights the importance of Russian energy investments in the country of Denis Sassou N'Guesso. But it also shows that the latter is keen to preserve his image as the doyen of Central African diplomacy. Very present in the Libyan file, the Congolese president is not the type to want to please the West, when it puts his allies at odds.
Tanzania regains voice
Last surprise: the abstention of Tanzania. If it is almost certain that during the term of the late John Magufuli, the exuberant head of state would undoubtedly have voted against the condemnation of Russia, for that which succeeded him, the decision was more thought out. Indeed, Dar es Salaam opened up in record time under Samia Suluhu Hassan. But the charismatic Tanzanian president, and seasoned diplomat, also covets the Asian and African market to export her resources, especially gas.
Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco: an absence that speaks volumes
Several countries preferred not to vote. This is the case of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco and Burkina Faso.
After numerous diplomatic routs, particularly in Mali and Chad, Faure Gnassingbé is still struggling to position himself. The Togolese president had already voted in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This time, Togo preferred to avoid voting, even if it meant being accused of headlong rush.
As for Morocco, the kingdom's absence can be seen as a lack of leadership. Morocco's diplomatic strategy seems increasingly blurred. The import of cereals from Morocco by the two belligerents in Eastern Europe and the gas crisis after the breakdown of relations with Algeria are pushing Rabat to think before taking a position.
Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt… These countries which condemn Russia
The list of African countries having voted for the condemnation of Russia is surprising. Thus, Nigeria, which is trying to enter the gas market by force, took care not to attract the wrath of the West by voting for the resolution.
The position of Zambia, which also voted in favor of the resolution, is also questionable. But on closer inspection, nothing surprising when we know that the new Zambian president, Hakainde Hichilema, is a convinced capitalist, whose first electoral promise was to reconcile the country with the IMF.
Another African country to have condemned Russia at the UN: Tunisia, which dissociates itself from a diplomatic tradition of neutrality. In the past, Tunisia, not having energy autonomy, had the intelligence to use this neutrality when voting on very complex geopolitical issues. Today, where is she? After failing to curry favor with Western donors to save the country's finances, Tunis is trying to side with the West.
Like Egypt, which also voted for the UN resolution. Cairo maintains solid relations with Russia, particularly in the tourism and energy sectors. But President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi seems to have chosen his camp, at a time when new geopolitical axes are taking shape. Egypt is on the side of Europe, above all. Indeed, Cairo has spent in recent months colossal funds in armaments, relying on French, German and British gunsmiths.
Chad, yet one of Russia's leading partners in terms of arms and military training, has followed Egypt's lead. The influence of Paris on the transitional president Mahamat Déby has been effective. Chad condemns Russia, even if it means denying its history: Idriss Déby had indeed supported Russia in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea.