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Kenya Wins UN Security Council Seat by 2 Votes

FILE - The U.N. Security Council meets at United Nations headquarters in New York, Feb. 26, 2020.
FILE - The U.N. Security Council meets at United Nations headquarters in New York, Feb. 26, 2020.

Kenya narrowly won an election for a non-permanent United Nations Security Council seat Thursday, in a vote impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway all won their bids in first-round voting on Wednesday, but neither Kenya nor Djibouti attained the two-thirds majority needed in the U.N. General Assembly to take a seat designated for Africa on the powerful 15-nation council.

In a second round on Thursday, Kenya achieved the slimmest of victories, obtaining 129 votes, one more than needed to win the seat. Djibouti fell well short with 62.

Djibouti’s foreign minister congratulated Kenya after the vote.

In the first round of voting on Wednesday, Ireland and Norway also had a tight race with Canada over two available seats for their regional group. Mexico and India ran unopposed. Seats are allocated by regional blocs and groups often agree on a common candidate among themselves to put up uncontested.

The five winners will join the council on January 1, 2021, for a 2-year term.

The elections were held in a sparsely populated General Assembly Hall, where all coronavirus protocols were observed, including face coverings, social distancing and staggered voting.

In mid-March, the United Nations essentially shut down its New York headquarters as the coronavirus spread across the metropolis. The city began its very limited first phase of reopening June 8 but that does not include large gatherings like the hundreds of diplomats who would normally flock to the building to cast their votes.

The newly elected countries will replace exiting council members Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa. They will join current non-permanent members Estonia, Niger, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam, and permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.