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Africa splits over the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Africanews | At the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Africa was divided on a resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calling for an early withdrawal of its military.

Following more than two days of deliberation, Eritrea was one of just five countries in the world to vote against it in the uncommon emergency session.

Its United Nations envoy stated that it respects each country's territorial integrity and sovereignty, but that diplomatic channels should stay open. Eritrea had been subjected to unilateral sanctions by the West for two decades, and they only "harm innocent people and obstruct the road to peace," according to the government, which called them "illegal and counterproductive."

17 of the 35 nations that abstained from voting on the General Assembly resolution calling on Russia to "immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces" from Ukrainian territory came from the 54-member African bloc.

In the Central African Republic and Mali, Russian mercenaries and troops are assisting governments in the battle against insurgencies.

Uganda stated it abstained to maintain its "neutrality" as the upcoming chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam), a group of 120 developing countries formed to prevent their citizens from becoming pawns in Cold War geopolitical struggles.

On Twitter, the EU ambassador to South Africa questioned why the country had voted no. South Africa's public diplomacy chief, Clayson Monyela, accused the EU of having double standards, saying it should also denounce aggressors in the Palestinian territories, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Somalia.

Eight nations did not vote at all, including two that have recently had coups, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

Ethiopia, where Eritrean fighters have been fighting alongside Ethiopian troops in a civil war since November 2020, did not vote either. "We urge all sides to maintain patience in the #Ukraine crisis," Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted, adding that his country was closely following events.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is still going on. A Cameroonian student in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson has expressed his fear of venturing out, claiming that the southern Ukrainian port has become a ghost town.

The scenario is similar in Ukraine, where African students seek refuge in tunnels.

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