By Hassan Isilow and Felix Nkambeh Tih
African countries and rights groups have welcomed the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) decision to reject the U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.
U.S. President Donald Trump had warned Thursday that he would withhold billions of dollars in aid to countries that vote in support of the UN resolution denouncing the U.S. move.
U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, wrote to 180 out of 193 member states warning them that she will be taking names of the countries that vote in support of the resolution.
But several African countries supported the resolution nonetheless. Only Togo voted against the resolution.
The U.N. on Thursday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on Jerusalem, calling on the U.S. to withdraw its recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
A total of 128 members voted in favor of the resolution, nine countries voted against it and 35 others abstained.
The government of Botswana reacted bitterly to the letter sent by the U.S.
“Botswana, will not be intimidated by such threats and will exercise her sovereign right and vote based on her foreign policy principle,” the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
Uganda’s government spokesman Ofwono Opondo called the U.S. a bully, adding this had become worse under the leadership of Donald Trump.
"They need to know that the world recognizes the injustices meted on Palestine by Israel in cohort with the U.S.," he said.
Uganda, which abstained from the vote, could in theory risk losing $436 million in U.S. aid for the 2018 financial year.
"We did the right thing by voting to reject the U.S. unilateral and unhelpful position on Jerusalem," a Nigerian diplomat said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment on the matter.
The Zambian Muslim Community welcomed the resolution. Islamic Council of Zambia (ICOZ) president Suzyo Zimba told journalists Friday the UN decision will ease tensions in the Middle East.
Kenya’s government spokesman Erick Kiraithe told Anadolu Agency his country, which boycotted the vote, could not comment on the matter.
“We welcome the resolution and hope the international community will use its powers to reform the United Nations by introducing democratic measures that will see the U.S. lose its power of veto,” Iqbal Jassat of the Johannesburg-based advocacy group Media Review Network said.
He said he was disappointed with some African countries which abstained from the vote, saying this violated the spirit of the African Union’s charter on respect of human rights and international law.
“Those countries that abstained betrayed their people and the Palestinian cause,” he said.
* Anadolu Agency correspondents, Halima Athumani from Kampala-Uganda, Rafiu Ajakaye from Lagos -Nigeria, Francis Mwinga from Lusaka-Zambia and Magdalene Mukami from Nairobi-Kenya contributed to this story.