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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Sierra Leone votes to suspend Russia from United Nations Human Rights Council

By: Gabriel Benjamin

Sierra Leone joined 92 other countries yesterday to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly.

Sierra Leone’s position was an audacious move considering that hours before the vote, Russia warned countries to vote against the resolution. In fact Russia warned that countries voting no or abstaining would be considered “unfriendly”, a euphemistic way of saying such countries would be punished with consequences for bilateral ties.

China was the apparent leader of countries voting against the resolution— once again underscoring geopolitical tensions following the Ukraine-Russia war.

In Africa, countries voting yes included Chad, Cote D’ivoire, Liberia, Libya, Mauritius,   Sierra Leone, and Seychelles.

Countries voting no included Algeria, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, and Mali.

Many other countries abstained, including Senegal whose president Macky Sall chairs the African Union

With Senegal abstaining, others were Nigeria, Lesotho, Cameroun, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, and many more.

The move to expel Russia comes in the wake of gruesome killings of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, near Kyiv, allegedly by Russian troops.

Some had their hands tied behind their backs before execution.

Concord Times understands that Russia, the US and some EU countries lobbied Sierra Leone on the vote.

At the end, Sierra Leone’s vote could have been based on factors such as economic and political interest as well as the impact of the pictures of the killings that circulated around the world.

“Sierra Leone is currently campaigning to become a member of the UN Security Council and it needs the support of both the US, and EU countries. Voting against the resolution would have ended that ambition,” a senior government official who does not want his name mentioned since he was not authorized to speak on the issue, told Concord Times.

Although China professes to be neutral, it is believed China is solidly behind Russia, given its own geopolitical rivalry with the US and the EU.

China’s interest and investments in Africa may have influenced many African countries to vote no or abstain.

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