Russia's Lavrov urges UN reforms to raise Africa's voice

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni walk ahead of their meeting, in Entebbe, Uganda, Tuesday July 26 2022. Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Uganda on the third stop of a tour of African countries (AP Photo/Hajarah Nalwadda)

KAMPALA – Russia's foreign minister said his country supports reforming the U.N. Security Council to give a more powerful role to developing nations, including African countries.

Sergey Lavrov spoke Tuesday in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, after meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

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"We confirmed our positions when it comes to the reforming of the U.N. Security Council," Lavrov said. “The main problem here is the underrepresentation in the Security Council of developing states and the only solution to this problem is bigger representation of Asian, African and Latin American countries.”

Uganda is the third stop on Lavrov's tour of Africa as Russia tries to break diplomatic isolation over its war in Ukraine. Lavrov will end his trip with a visit to Ethiopia, the headquarters of the 54-nation African Union.

Lavrov spoke alongside Museveni, a U.S. ally whose government also maintains friendly ties with Russia.

Uganda is one of 25 African nations that abstained or didn’t vote in the U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. Many nations on the continent of 1.3 billion people have long-standing ties with Moscow, dating back to the Cold War when the Soviet Union supported their anti-colonial struggles.

Museveni said Tuesday that Russia has been a friend to Uganda for more than 100 years. Russia cannot suddenly become an enemy because of its rivalry with the U.S., he said.

“We want to make our own enemies, not fight other people's enemies,” Museveni said. “This is our doctrine."

At the start of the war in Ukraine, Museveni and his son, Ugandan infantry commander Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, made public comments widely seen as sympathetic toward Russia.

Russian officers regularly assist Uganda to maintain military equipment and authorities recently gave a contract to a Russian firm that will install tracking devices in military vehicles to combat violent crime.

African leaders in recent months have pressed for Africa's permanent representation on the U.N. Security Council. The matter of reforming the 15-member council has provoked debate for decades.

Museveni earlier this year said reforms would stop what he described as “mistakes” such as the removal from power of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, who ruled for nearly 42 years before he was ousted by an uprising in 2011 and later was captured and killed.

The Security Council's five permanent members reflect the international power structure at the end of World War II: the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain. The council’s 10 other seats rotate among U.N. members who serve two-year terms.

While there is widespread support for revamping the council to reflect current global realities, efforts have been mired in national and regional rivalries.

The African Union has called for the council to be expanded to 26 members with six additional permanent seats, including two for Africa with veto power, and five non-permanent seats for Africa.

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