Out of 193 United Nations member states, a total of 141 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while five countries – Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Russia and Syria – voted against and 35 others opposed. are abstained. Eritrea, being the only African nation that has openly supported Russia.
Among the 35 countries that abstained from voting were: China, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Iraq; Below is the list of the 17 African countries that abstained:
- Central African Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- South Africa
- south sudan
- United Republic of Tanzania
Before discussing the four reasons why 17 African countries abstained in the UN vote to condemn Russia’s invasion, it is important to highlight some historical facts that may have influenced their action.
The majority of African states gained their independence at the height of the ideological rivalry (cold war) between capitalist and socialist countries. During the Cold War, these so-called first and second world countries came to Africa to propose capitalist and socialist models of development. In order to enlist newly independent African countries into their orbit of influence in world politics.
For example Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo who opted for the Russian socialist model for his country; was then overthrown by the military who believed in the capitalist model of development.
After the Cold War, neoliberal capitalism became the globally accepted model for achieving economic development and growth. Even Russia and China, the main socialist states, have embraced neoliberal market capitalism, with modifications to suit their national contexts.
Although all African states have adopted market-oriented development paths, African development has remained stagnant, due to the proliferation of intra-state conflicts in Africa, which began immediately after the Cold War in 1991.
Liberia, Rwanda, Congo, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Nigeria, Mali, among others, have all experienced internal security challenges. Some of them are still struggling to neutralize non-state armed actors disrupting national peace.
Western development partners have invested heavily to ensure lasting peace in Africa, it is said. Peace is the first requirement, before development can take place. However, extremist groups such as Boko Haram and others are draining the finances of African countries. With the implications that a greater percentage of the national budget is spent on national security. While pressing human security issues are deprioritized.
Reasons why African countries abstained from voting at the UN
By abstaining from voting, African countries signaled their neutrality in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.
Admittedly, Ukraine, being one of the successor states of the defunct Soviet Union, belongs historically, geographically and culturally to Eastern Europe; however, its aspirations to “Westernize” via NATO membership pose a threat to the security of its immediate neighbour, Russia.
The neutrality of African nations is therefore understandable, as the fear of Russia was not taken into consideration when the resolution was adopted.
Russian military solution for protracted intra-state conflicts in Africa
The reputation of Russian private military contractors’ ability to contain violent extremism and ensure regime stability in Syria is one of the reasons why African states abstained from voting on the resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Syria. Ukraine.
In four years (2015 to 2019), Russia has concluded bilateral security agreements with 19 African countries.
Currently, the Wegner Group, a Russian private military contractor, operates in six African countries, namely: Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, Madagascar, Central African Republic and Mali.
In Mali, for example, Wegner mercenaries effectively control the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), which operates in the country.
Western development strategies for retarded African development.
Although Russia has the intelligence, equipment and military capabilities to suppress violent extremism in Africa, it does not have what it takes to support the consolidation of democratic rule and economic prosperity in Africa.
Africa needs the support and partnership of the West to entrench democratic standards, such as freedom of expression, human rights and free and fair elections in Africa.
By abstaining from voting, African countries signaled that they have not abandoned the West. They will continue to partner with the West in order to modernize their societies and improve the standard of living of citizens.
To vote against the resolution would have meant rejecting the West and its laudable development strategies implemented in Africa.
Benefit from Russia and the West to catalyze development in Africa
Nobody talks about economic prosperity and development in a context of permanent insecurity. Africa needs Russian military contractors to contain and neutralize non-state actors that threaten peace and security on the continent.
For economic prosperity and development, we need the West to ensure that market-driven economic models work for the benefit of the majority of Africans.
Russia is needed to ensure a peaceful enabling environment, while the West is called upon to help make Africa the production factory for Western commodities.