Posted by: APO | 15 June 2010

African Affairs Remarks / US Priorities on sub-Saharan Africa

 

African Affairs Remarks / US Priorities on sub-Saharan Africa

 

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — African Affairs Remarks / US Priorities on sub-Saharan Africa:

Johnnie Carson

Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs

Remarks for the Diplomacy Briefing Series Conference

Washington, DC

June 14, 2010

 

Good afternoon. I would like to thank the Bureau of Public Affairs for organizing the Diplomacy Briefing Series and for inviting me to join all of you today to examine our key priorities in Africa.

 

I want to begin today by emphasizing the strong commitment of this Administration to working with our African partners to bring about a more peaceful, stable, and prosperous Africa. This Administration sees immense potential in Africa, and we are determined to work with Africans across the continent to help realize this promise.

 

Often, Africa has been overlooked as a top policy priority for the U.S. Government. I can tell you that this is not the case with this Administration. President Obama is not complacent about Africa, and is determined to forge a deeper and more lasting impact on our relationship with the continent, not just through words, but through concrete action.

 

As evidence of this commitment, Vice President Biden concluded just yesterday a week-long trip to Africa—a trip in which I participated. Some in the media focused on the World Cup as the centerpiece of this Africa visit, but this trip was more about substance than sport. The Vice President used this trip to focus on one of the Administration’s highest priorities in Africa: the current situation in Sudan. In Egypt, the Vice President met with President Mubarak and other senior government officials to discuss Sudan policy. In Kenya, we met with Salva Kiir, the President of the Government of South Sudan and other South Sudanese leaders. And in South Africa, I accompanied the Vice President to his extended meeting with Thabo Mbeki, the AU’s point person on Sudan.

 

The Vice President’s trip was just the most recent example of high-level engagement by this Administration in Africa. The President’s visit to Ghana last July, the earliest visit made by a U.S. president to the continent, underscored Africa’s importance to the U.S. And last September, at the UN General Assembly, the President hosted a lunch with 26 African heads of state. Over the past year, he has also met in the oval office with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Khama of Botswana, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai of Zimbabwe. And during the Nuclear Summit in April of this year, the President also met with President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and President Zuma of South Africa.

 

All of the President’s senior foreign policy advisors have followed his lead by traveling to Africa. The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice visited five African countries last June, including Liberia and Rwanda. Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew traveled to Ethiopia and Tanzania in June 2009, and was in Mali and Nigeria just last month.

 

Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero headed the U.S. delegation to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa in January 2010, where we discussed a range of issues, including democracy and governance, climate change, and food security. Last month, she led the U.S. delegation to Abuja to the first meeting of the Democracy and Governance working group of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission. And last August, Secretary Clinton made an 11-day, seven-country trip across the continent.

 

These high-level visits are a testament to the importance this Administration places on Africa, and our commitment to meet and work with our partners to address the immense challenges facing the continent. Through our engagement and programs, the Administration is seeking to advance five key policy priorities on the continent.

 

First: We are working with African governments, the international community, and civil society to strengthen democratic institutions and protect the democratic gains made in recent years in many African countries.

 

Since the 1990’s, we have witnessed an impressive wave of democratic transitions, during which dozens of African countries moved from dictatorship to democracy, in one of the most impressive political transformations in history. Recent democratic elections, including those in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, and Ghana, have served to remind the world of the importance that Africans attach to democracy, as well as the values that underpin it. The recent elections in Ghana and Mauritius were especially impressive, as they have resulted in a peaceful, democratic transition between two political parties.

 

Nonetheless, we have seen worrying signs of backsliding in terms of democracy and good governance in a number of countries as a result of flawed elections, harassment of opposition groups, and attempts by presidents to extend their term limits. We have also seen a recurrence of military coups and interventions in several countries.

 

The political and economic success of Africa depends a great deal on the effectiveness, sustainability, and reliability of its democratic institutions. We are encouraging governments across the continent to get elections right. To level the playing field, clean up the voter rolls, open up the media, count the votes fairly, and give democracy a chance.

 

SOURCE 

US Department of State


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