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French President Backs Africa U.N. Security Council Seat

Kabiru Mato, professor of political science at Nigeria’s University of Abuja has welcomed a French pledge to support Africa’s representation on the U.N. Security Council.

Mato expressed hope to VOA French President Nicholas Sarkozy will be able to convince the leaders of other industrial countries to accommodate Africa’s representation on the Security Council.

“It’s a lot of encouragement (and) it’s a sign of perhaps (a) change of mind that it’s coming from the major countries on the need to perhaps carry Africa along in the scheme of global political economy. I hope that (Mr.) Sarkozy will back his words by action,” he said.

President Sarkozy made the pledged during the ongoing Africa-France summit in Nice saying he will back Africa’s bid to be represented on the 15-member Security Council.

The two-day Africa-France summit which ends Tuesday attracted over 40 African leaders and is expected to bolster relations between African countries and France.

Together with the United Kingdom, France is reportedly calling for U.N. reforms whereby non-permanent, non-veto membership on the Security Council would be raised to 10 years from two. The Council’s has 15 members, including the five permanent members with veto power, France, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, the United States and China.

Mato expressed the hope that President Sarkozy’s pledge is not a mere publicity stunt.

“I hope it’s not also another political game plan that France is deploying in order to woo perhaps the attention of African leaders, so as to maybe maintain (an) upper hand in its dealings with (the) African continent in a much more comfortable manner than most other major European powers,” Mato said.

Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso was quoted as saying that there is need for Africa to have two seats on the Security Council. He said the world can no longer manage crises under an outdated system that has been in use since the Second World War.

Mato said Africa’s representation on the Security Council will boost its reputation and image on the global political stage.

“I think it has to do more with what I will call status symbol. The Security Council itself is fast losing its credibility because we have seen at least one or two members of the United Nations taking unilateral or bilateral action, not in consonance with the Council. So, obviously, the Security Council is not as sacrosanct as it used to be, but still it retains some major, or very serious, significance,” Mato said.