QUESTION: Welcome to Zambia.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. I’m delighted to be here. It’s my – I’ve been to Victoria Falls, but it’s my fist trip to Lusaka, so I’m very happy about that.
QUESTION: That’s good. That’s good. I just wanted to find out from you, I’m aware that America has a freedom of information law in place and Zambia doesn’t have one, so (inaudible). What would be your advice to Zambia (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we in the United States have found that the freedom of information laws are a very important tool for people to hold their government accountable. You should, in a democracy, have access to information that is not so secret that it could undermine the state or cause people to be targeted and perhaps intimidated or worse. But the run-of-the-mill government activities that go on every day, people have a right to know about them and to ask questions about them. So we urge countries to adopt their own freedom of information laws.
QUESTION: Zambia goes to the polls this year, and the public media, financed by public resources – it is said to be only covering the ruling party, and so opposition feel like they’re being not listed. Would you say that is a good atmosphere for free and fair elections?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, we expect there to be free, fair, and transparent elections in Zambia, and we don’t expect anyone, the government or anyone else, to be given special privileges. That is not appropriate. I will be meeting with the two leading opposition candidates at our Embassy later today, and I will certainly be listening to their concerns. The specifics, I can’t comment on. I don’t know about the specifics.
I know that sometimes the lines are hard to draw in our own country. The President remains the president, even though he’s going to be running for reelection, so certain things go along with being the president. He’ll still live in the White House, he’ll still travel on Air Force One, so sometimes the lines are a little complicated. But the general point is there need to be free, fair, transparent elections. No candidate should be disadvantaged and no candidate should be privileged.
QUESTION: There is debate currently in the country and (inaudible) between the government and the media. The government wants to regulate the media through the statutes and the media are opposed to that. Now, what advice would you give? Would you prefer voluntary media regulation or self media regulation above statutory media regulation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we believe in freedom of the press and free expression in the United States, so we don’t think that the government should be regulating the media. Now, there are certain laws that may be called for, but in general, we don’t think that a system of regulation on the media is in the interest of democracy. Anybody who’s ever been in government, as I am, or been in politics, as I have, knows you don’t like everything that’s going to be in the media. People are not going to just write love letters to you if you have a free and independent media. They’re going to criticize you. They’re going to ask difficult questions. That goes with the territory of being in a democracy.
And as annoying as it might be if you are in the government, you just have to do a better job of communicating. Sometimes the media asks questions because they’re not getting information, to go back to your point about the freedom of information. So the more information you can provide, the better the relationship with the media will be.
QUESTION: And there’s something different (inaudible) HIV and AIDS. Africa, of course, is very much at the center of it all, and the U.S. is a leader in provisional funds to the Global Fund. Some countries like Zambia have been cited to have abused some Global Funds for HIV and AIDS. What would be your advice to countries like Zambia in the use of resources from the Global Fund?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s just absolutely unacceptable that any company – any country would not use the funds from the Global Funds for the purpose they’re intended: to provide treatment and services to people living with HIV and AIDS. We are supporting the Global Fund in its efforts to conduct audits to try to determine if money has been misused. But I don’t know how anyone can meet those who are suffering from HIV and AIDS and do anything other than want to help those people. So we’re going to be very tough on any country that takes our money or takes Global Fund money that doesn’t use it for what it’s intended.
QUESTION: And finally on – to ask you about Libya, some Africans or some people feel that Western countries, including the U.S., are sort of bullies of the world. A case in point is Libya bombings. Is (inaudible) the best option to the settling the problems of Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is not the best option. It was the last option. Everyone asked that Qadhafi have a ceasefire against his own people, that he enter into discussions, that he – he’s a man who’s been in power for more than 40 years. He’s never been elected honestly to anything, and it was time for him to transition his country. And he refused and, in fact, threatened his own people, said he was going to hunt them down like rats.
And when the Arab League, which has never asked for intervention before, asked for a fellow Arab state to be taken to the United Nations, the international community agreed, including South Africa, Nigeria, Gabon, the other – the African members on the Security Council.
We still every day ask him to cease his attacks on his people, withdraw his troops, his mercenaries. And so far, he’s refused to do so. It’s a very unfortunate situation. But he continues to attack civilians, and under the United Nations, we are obligated to try to protect those civilians.
QUESTION: I’d like to thank you very much for the interview.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. I enjoyed it.
QUESTION: Thank you.