I would like to thank Richard Solomon and the United States Institute for Peace for inviting me to speak today. It’s an honor to be here. My colleagues and I are avid readers of your reports and policy papers, and we greatly appreciate the regular opportunities to participate in the Institute’s many enriching seminars and conferences. You play a vital role in shaping the public’s interest in foreign policy and in keeping the international community focused on the most critical and important global issues. In Africa, the work the Institute has done on Sudan in recent years has complemented our efforts to support the negotiations, promote local conflict resolution, and bolster civil society. We hope you will continue your work on Sudan and South Sudan in the years ahead.
This afternoon I’d like to make some brief remarks about the opportunities and challenges facing the world’s newest nation, South Sudan. Today’s event comes at a critical time as we look ahead to the opportunities and challenges for Sudan and South Sudan. Independence presents a new opportunity for the people of South Sudan, an opportunity to build a new nation that embodies their values and aspirations. It also presents an opportunity for the people of Sudan to redefine their relationship with the international community and pursue a more prosperous future.
We want to see the people of Sudan and South Sudan seize those opportunities and succeed. But to do that, they must establish a stable and durable peace between their two states, and they must work to promote stability and development within their borders. This will not be easy and it will not happen overnight, but it is doable. The Sudanese have demonstrated their capacity over the last year to work together and overcome great odds. The United States is committed to being a steadfast partner as they continue to work out their remaining differences and build the peace and stability that all Sudanese people desire.
This past Saturday, I joined leaders from around the world in recognizing and celebrating South Sudan’s independence. It was one of the most moving occasions of my time as Assistant Secretary. In Juba, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese endured sweltering heat for hours to celebrate the birth of their new nation. The Government of South Sudan organized a day of pageantry and substance. The proclamation of independence was read. President Salva Kiir took the oath of office and unveiled a statue of John Garang. President Kiir spoke eloquently of the sacrifices endured by millions of Sudanese and the challenges South Sudan faces as the newest and one of the poorest states in the world. Sudanese President Bashir was in attendance and congratulated his hosts, and Sudan followed through on its pledge to be the first country to recognize South Sudan’s independence.
It truly was a historic day for the people of South Sudan.
Just a year ago, last Saturday’s celebration appeared impossible. The peace process between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement had stalled. A return to open conflict seemed possible. Many analysts warned the Southern Sudan referendum was at high risk of delay or would be mired in bitter controversy. Little if any preparation was underway, and many observers doubted northern leaders would allow the referendum to proceed or would accept its results.
Recognizing that the CPA and the Southern Referendum were in serious peril, President Obama committed last year to reenergize the peace effort to make sure that the North and South Sudan did not return to a state of conflict. We intensified our diplomatic engagement with the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as our partners in the African Union, IGAD, the United Nations, the EU, and others. The President, the Vice President and the entire national security team were involved in this effort around the clock. The U.S. Special Envoys for Sudan, first Ambassador Scott Gration and then Ambassador Princeton Lyman, shuttled back and forth to the region, working with the parties to move the process forward. A number of Americans – acting individually and through civil society groups – also deserve a vote of thanks for keeping a spotlight on the situation in Sudan.
Against the odds, the people of Sudan and their leaders came together and organized an on-time referendum in January that was peaceful, credibly and reflected the will of the people. And despite moments of tension and crisis, they have worked together over the past months to enable a peaceful separation. For those of you that have followed Sudan’s history over the years, you know the significance of this achievement. But you also know that the situation remains fragile. Serious threats to peace and security remain, and great challenges lie ahead. The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan must continue to foster a spirit of cooperation as they work to resolve these threats and challenges. This is essential. Because even though they are now two separate countries, their peoples share historic, geographic, and economic ties. And they share common interests. The fate of Sudan and South Sudan are intertwined.
Challenges in the Relationship between South Sudan and Sudan
The challenges are formidable. South Sudan has achieved its independence, but it has not secured its future. First and foremost, Sudan and South Sudan must resolve outstanding issues between them. Over recent months, with the support of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the CPA parties have made progress in their negotiations. However, they failed to reach final resolution on several key issues before July 9. The recent fighting in Abyei and in the border state of Southern Kordofan has added additional complexities to the unresolved issues. President Bashir and President Kiir committed at the IGAD Summit on July 4 that they would continue negotiations on the outstanding issues after July 9. They must now turn those commitments into action. Both the parties must return to the negotiating table. They must work to resolve these issues in the shortest possible timeframe. Allowing these issues to linger without resolution for too long could destabilize the future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and lead to tensions and potentially renewed conflict.
Abyei: Abyei remains a crucial issue for resolution. On May 20 the Sudanese Armed Forces invaded and occupied Abyei, following an unprovoked attack by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on a UN convoy escorting Sudanese armed forces. The North’s takeover of Abyei brought widespread looting and caused the displacement of an estimated 100,000 people.
The Obama Administration strongly condemned Khartoum’s actions in Abyei and worked with President Mbeki and his team and the UN Security Council to persuade the parties to reach an agreement on new security arrangements for Abyei that would lead to the withdrawal of Sudanese troops and the protection of Abyei by a neutral force. The parties agreed that a new UN peacekeeping force, consisting of roughly 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers, would be established to maintain security in Abyei, and that all Sudanese military forces would redeploy from the area. It is critical that the parties fully implement this agreement. The violence that flared in Abyei cannot be allowed to return and jeopardize the larger peace. The parties must work with the AU Panel to reach agreement on the area’s future and final status. They also need to resolve the status of five other disputed areas along the border.
Oil: In addition to Abyei, the parties have not sorted out how they will handle oil assets and other financial transition arrangements. Oil and the revenue it generates are indispensable to the prosperity and welfare of all Sudanese – both North and South. Negotiations on oil are of particular urgency. By the end of July, there must be an understanding on how oil in the South will be marketed and sold and to what extent payments will be made to the North. The parties must reach an interim agreement to keep the oil flowing. We have strongly encouraged both parties to refrain from any unilateral actions that could destabilize the oil sector and cause severe economic shocks.
Citizenship: Another crucial issue is citizenship. There continue to be hundreds of thousands of southerners living and working in the North, and a smaller but significant number of northerners in the South. The parties have agreed to work to ensure that no one is left stateless, and they have agreed in principle on a nine-month transition period in which people can adjust their citizenship status. It is critical that both states follow through on this commitment. We have also called on Sudan and South Sudan to guarantee the rights of work, property, residency, and movement for all former and current Sudanese citizens. We continue to discourage any action that might cause people suddenly to become aliens in areas where they have resided and raised their families for decades.
Internal Challenges and Opportunities for South Sudan
Beyond resolving the outstanding issues of its separation from the North, South Sudan also must address its own internal challenges as a newly independent state. The continued activity of armed militia groups and the proliferation of weapons pose an ongoing security threat. South Sudan needs to make substantially more progress on security sector reform and the demobilization and social reintegration of former fighters over the next year. The United States and South Sudan’s other international partners are actively supporting these efforts.
Without question, South Sudan has some of the worst human development indicators in the world. Much of the country has little transportation infrastructure, no formal educational system, limited health services, and no judicial system. There is very little industry or economic infrastructure outside of Juba.
To build a new nation, South Sudan will need coherent and realistic development plans that build local capacity so that the South Sudanese people can, over the long term, do the building themselves rather than become dependent on outsiders and the donor community. USAID along with South Sudan’s other international development partners have been providing technical expertise aimed at increasing the capacity of the new South Sudanese Government. We have worked closely with the Government of South Sudan from the local to the national levels and will continue to do so.
Transparent and democratic processes need to be put into place so that the Southern Sudanese people can hold their government accountable and have adequate input into decision-making. This is also critical if the Government of South Sudan is to sustain international support. The eyes of the world will indeed be on South Sudan in the weeks and months ahead. It must demonstrate its commitment to avoiding the pitfalls that have befallen many other oil-producing nations. President Kiir said the right things in his inauguration speech, and now his Government must deliver. The United States is committed to helping his Government do so.
Internal Challenges and Opportunities for Sudan
Sudan too must address its own internal problems in the months and years ahead. First and foremost, the Government of Sudan must bring an end to the ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Darfur.
Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile: At the same time that crisis was unfolding in Abyei, fighting broke out in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan, an area that is home to tens of thousands of SPLA fighters. Some 73,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, which continues. Humanitarian access has been severely restricted, and UN peacekeepers have been harassed and blocked from patrolling. On June 28, with the help of the African Union Panel, the parties signed a framework agreement on political and security arrangements for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but they have not agreed on a cessation of hostilities. And unfortunately, President Bashir has since raised problems with the framework agreement, which puts negotiations at risk. We are continuing to press the parties to bring an end to the fighting, allow unfettered access to humanitarian agencies and to accept a continued UN presence.
Darfur: The Government of Sudan must also finally bring an end to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. A just, inclusive and durable settlement in Darfur is critical for a viable and prosperous Sudan in the future. To achieve such a settlement, the Sudanese Government should find ways to improve the economic situation of the Darfuri people while addressing their political concerns. The government must also seek to bring an end to the culture of impunity that has taken hold in Darfur.
One of Darfur’s rebel groups, the Liberation and Justice Movement may sign a peace agreement with the Government of Sudan this week; however one other major group is still on the fence while other rebel movements have refused to take part in the Doha process. We have emphasized to the Government of Sudan that this agreement would be a positive step toward peace, but that it must continue to negotiate with the other armed movements.
The armed rebel movements in Darfur have contributed to the continuation of this conflict and they must take responsibility for working toward its end. During the days ahead, these groups must choose peace over war and recognize that long-term stability and recovery cannot be gained through additional conflict. We believe the non-negotiating movements must return to the peace talks and seek to conclude an agreement with the Sudanese Government.
Economic situation: In addition to resolving the conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Darfur, the Government of Sudan faces considerable economic challenges. With the loss of oil revenues from the south and a crippling debt estimated at $38 billion, the Government of Sudan needs debt relief, access to the International Financial Institutions and a new infusion of foreign investment. It also needs to revitalize its once promising agriculture sector.
The Government of Sudan showed an encouraging commitment to peace in signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, allowing the referendum to take place, and being the first nation in the world to recognize the independence of the South.
The United States has told the Sudanese Government that we are prepared to improve our bilateral relations if they continue down this path of peace. We have presented them with a roadmap toward normalized relations and taken initial steps in that direction. In February, the President initiated the process of reviewing Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and in June the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan traveled to Khartoum to discuss this review and to demonstrate our commitment to this process. We have also approved licenses for several American companies wishing to participate in agricultural development in Sudan.
The United States has told the Government of Sudan that we are prepared to help with the country’s challenges, and we have already taken initial steps to that end. However, in line with our roadmap, we can only implement this support if Sudan lives up to its CPA obligations and demonstrates its commitment to peace within its borders. This is not just the position of the United States; it is also the position of many other members of the international community and key international creditors.
The Government of Sudan now has a historic opportunity to end its isolation and redefine its relationship with the international community. We hope that Khartoum will seize this opportunity to secure a more prosperous future for its people.
Opportunities for a Shared Future of Partnership
The challenges ahead are daunting, and a great deal of hard work remains to be done. But in closing, I recall the scene I witnessed in Juba on Saturday. The spirit of hope that permeated the air can be built upon for a better future.
As President Obama noted in his statement, South Sudan’s successful independence is “a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible. A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn. These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people.”
Indeed, the light of a new dawn is possible. The people of Sudan and South Sudan have a historic opportunity today to chart a new future based on partnership, cooperation and shared prosperity. We are committed to working with Sudan and South Sudan toward the goal of two viable states at peace with another. The two nations cannot prosper unless the other is stable and economically viable. While they may be two nations, their fates are linked together by their shared history, people, and economics.
The Obama Administration will work with both countries in the weeks and months ahead to realize this promise of a better future for the people in both the South and the North.
MS. FULTON: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Today, to address the emerging humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, we have four briefers to speak to you today about a number of areas and initiatives. We have with us Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, who is the assistant secretary for African affairs. We have Dr. Reuben Brigety, who is the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. We have Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg from the U.S. Agency for International Development. And we have Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at the bureau – excuse me, at the Agency for International Development. Nancy is an addition to the lineup, so an extra special guest we have with us today.
I’m going to turn it over to each of the speakers in that order to give remarks, and then we’ll open it up for questions following that. So I’d like to turn it over to Assistant Secretary Carson.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you. Good afternoon. We in the United States Government have been responding to the evolving humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa for some time, and my colleagues and I will provide you with additional details on this situation.
However, I wanted to underline the importance that we attach to providing an appropriate and timely response in full partnership with the international community. Severe drought, poor infrastructure and insecurity have had a debilitating impact on the welfare of millions of people in this region, especially in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. This crisis has resulted in severe malnutrition, acute hunger, and rising levels of starvation. It has generated extraordinary refugee flows across thousands of miles in East Africa.
The current crisis in the Horn has long-term and short-term implications. It threatens the lives of those at risk, especially young children and women. And it also endangers the hard-won development gains and the future prospects of millions of people throughout East Africa and the Horn. Today, over 11 million people are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, an estimated 3.6 million people have been affected. This includes refugees, rural pastoralists, and urban poor who are unable to buy adequate food because of escalating prices.
In Ethiopia, at least 4.5 million people are in need of assistance. Almost 3 million people need assistance in Somalia. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees already in Kenya and in Ethiopia, new arrivals are coming in at staggering daily rates. Many of these most recent refugees are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition, and there may be many more in need of assistance in Eritrea, where a repressive regime fails to provide data on the humanitarian needs of its own people. The free flow of information is what allows people to make early choices that can help avert catastrophe. We urge the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with the UN agencies and other international organizations to address the issue of hunger and food shortage in that country.
The State Department and USAID have been working with the international community and governments in the region to respond to food, water, shelter, and sanitation needs of affected populations. As we work to address the short-term immediate needs in the region, we will continue to implement our Feed the Future initiative as part of our long-term strategy to mitigate the effects of prolonged drought and food shortage in this area in the future. The Feed the Future program is intended to increase agricultural productivity, shift away from rain-fed agriculture, promote better storage techniques, employ modern farming methods, and utilize science and technology to assist populations in adapting to increasing erratic weather patterns throughout the Horn of Africa. By investing in and working closely with regional governments, we hope the Feed the Future program will help reduce regional vulnerabilities to these types of humanitarian crises in the future.
An especially complex and difficult component of the Horn of Africa’s humanitarian crisis is the high number of Somali refugees flowing into both Ethiopia and Kenya. This is a result of three overlapping and intersecting problems. The first is the extreme climate-induced drought that has prevailed intensely for the past two years and cyclically for more than 50 years. The second is the absence of a functioning central government in Somalia for over two decades. And the third is the presence of the anti-Western terrorist organization Al-Shabaab in south central Somalia. Al-Shabaab’s activities have clearly made the current situation much worse. In January 2010, Al-Shabaab prohibited international humanitarian workers and organizations from operating in their areas of control. And its continued refusal to grant humanitarian access has prevented the international community from responding to and mitigating some of the cumulative and most disastrous consequences of the drought in south central Somalia.
We have seen the recent reports that Al-Shabaab claims that it will finally allow international humanitarian aid into areas under its control. We are consulting with international organizations that have worked in these areas to verify if there has been any real change in Al-Shabaab’s policies that would allow us and others to operate freely and without taxation imposed for humanitarian deliveries. Al-Shabaab’s current policies are wreaking havoc and are not helping Somalis living in the south central part of that country.
The drought and humanitarian crisis in the Horn will not end next week or next month. As this crisis and its humanitarian needs expand, the international community and host governments will be called upon to do more to respond to the immediate and critical humanitarian assistance needs in the Horn of Africa. We recognize the measures that the countries in the region are putting in place, and we applaud our partners who have already responded generously to the appeals for assistance. As we look for ways to implement more comprehensive approaches, we hope potential donors will increase food, shelter, and financial contributions as part of a focused campaign to meet the critical needs of the region.
I will now turn the podium over to my colleague, Dr. Reuben Brigety. Thank you.
DR. BRIGETY: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. My name is Reuben Brigety. I’m the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for the State Department’s refugee programs in all of continental Africa. Thank you for coming today.
I returned Sunday night from Kenya and Ethiopia, where I visited the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya and in the Dolo Ado region of Ethiopia. In both countries, the State Department arranged for representatives of other embassies to accompany us, reflecting not only the high-level attention that our government is giving this emergency but also the multilateral approach we take to assisting refugees. These efforts are critical to saving lives and maintaining access to safe asylum in the neighboring countries of Somalia, even as they themselves struggle with the drought that may indeed be the worst in 60 years.
You have undoubtedly heard about the staggering rates of malnutrition amongst new arrivals in the refugee camps, up to 50 percent global acute malnutrition in Ethiopia, for example, reflecting the even more grim state of affairs for children inside Somalia. Humanitarian assistance experts expect this crisis to get worse before it gets better.
We have heard troubling reports from inside Somalia that the combined daily arrival rates of 3,200 new refugees in Ethiopia and Kenya could rise still more dramatically as the situation in Somalia grows increasingly desperate.
With enough human and financial resources, however, the international community can together address this refugee emergency. During my visit to Dadaab, the prime minister of Kenya announced that the government would open the already completed extension of one of three Dadaab camps to new refugees. It is the strong view of the Ethiopian and the Kenyan governments that the international community must do more to deliver food and other humanitarian assistance inside Somalia. The Kenyans and Ethiopians see this as a means of stemming the refugee flows even as they insist that they will not prevent anyone fleeing Somalia from crossing their borders. We understand the urgency of providing assistance to people inside Somalia and we welcome the continued generosity and support of the governments in the region that continue to host refugees in need.
Thank you very much, and I am pleased to turn the podium over to my colleague, Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg.
MR. STEINBERG: Thanks, Reuben. I too am just returning from the Horn of Africa, where I had a chance over the past week to visit Djibouti, Sudan, and Ethiopia to review the response of the United States Government and the rest of the international community to the tragedy of 100,000 Somali men, women, and children who are driven from their homes and in the refugee camps in Ethiopia, driven there by drought and violence.
We witnessed the sight of families stumbling into the camps through the bitter Ogaden desert and receiving their first nutritious meals in months. In most cases, that exodus took a week to ten days of walking through the desert. It was heart-wrenching. These numbers that we’re describing in Somalia are amplified by even greater numbers of people fleeing to Kenya in search of food, water, and security as their crops and their livestocks wither and the longstanding conflict continues.
As Johnnie said, the number of people in the Horn of Africa affected by this tragedy is staggering – more than 11 million in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia in need of emergency life-saving assistance. The international community has responded to this recent surge. We are racing to keep up.
But at the same time, it’s important to remember that we’ve long been preparing for this tragedy. As long ago as last summer, USAID-supported Famine Early Warning System Network, which we call FEWS NET, predicted this crisis, and in August of last year we started pre-positioning food and other supplies in Djibouti, in South Africa, and elsewhere in the region. Since October of last year, the United States Government has provided assistance to 4.4 million affected people, a total of $383 million of life-saving food, supplies, and other necessary aid, including 348,000 metric tons of food.
As we look ahead, the USAID response along with our partners in a whole-of-government effort, is focused on three interlocking challenges. In the short run, we’re going to continue our support of an aggressive and coordinated international response to the immediate humanitarian emergency. I am going to London tomorrow – actually, this evening – to coordinate with all of the major donors who are operating to respond. We’re having a meeting where we’re going to be discussing this issue and seeing what more we can do.
At this very moment, Raj Shah, the administrator of USAID, is on his way to Kenya, where he will visit the Dadaab refugee camp as well as the Wajir region in northern Kenya that is equally suffering from these problems.
Our response, again, is going to be primarily focused on food and water, but at the same time, we’re focused on health and disease so that we can prevent outbreaks in the refugee camps and other areas.
Our second prong, however, is to help communities confront the drought and extreme food insecurity. In Ethiopia, for example, we’re providing a safety net program that provides cash and work for food. And the work involves digging wells, creating medical clinics, nutrition education and sanitation. As a result of those programs, about 7.5 million Ethiopians are not among those who are currently in need of international aid.
Equally important, we are working throughout the region to create sustainable food security by strengthening agriculture and rural development. President Obama’s innovative and forward-looking Feed the Future initiative, which Johnnie Carson has described in detail, is already at work improving agricultural production, boosting markets, building infrastructure, bringing innovation, addressing the entire value change, and bringing women into the process of development. American food security and emergency assistance experts with vast experience in the region are working together with our international counterparts to pursue a coordinated, aggressive, and comprehensive response to the short-, medium-, and longer-term approaches. Again, the 11 million people in need of assistance in the eastern Horn deserve nothing less. And with that, I’d like to ask our assistant administrator for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance, Nancy Lindborg, to say a few words.
MS. LINDBORG: Thanks, Don. And good afternoon. I want to underscore that, as I think all of us know, drought is not new for this region. This region suffers cyclical droughts and through the years have – it has experienced significant suffering. However, 20 years ago we established something that Don mentioned called FEWS NET, the Famine Early Warning System. And this is – which is a USAID funded initiative – works closely with the UN to identify in advance rainfall conditions, does extensive analysis of historical and current rainfall cropping patterns, livestock health, market prices, and malnutrition rates. As a result, this enabled us to know as early as last October that we would be facing record low rainfalls. And we along with the international community, were able to preposition supplies and prepare to respond.
In addition, there has been significant work in the – particularly in Ethiopia that has enabled communities to be much better prepared to withstand severe drought. And as a comparison, in 2002, 2003, which was the last time Ethiopia had a serious drought, there were 15 million Ethiopians who required humanitarian assistance. This year it’s 4.5. As serious as that number sounds, it represents a significant step forward in establishing community resilience. This ability to be better prepared and to have those early warnings, coupled with, as Don described, the Feed the Future initiative that builds productivity, will continue to enable that region to withstand the ravages of drought.
Specifically, however, in Somalia, we’ve been unable to reach some of the most affected populations. We have, however, been able to reach 1.5 million people in the more accessible areas of Somalia and been able to move forward with significant aid that provides therapeutic feeding, critical health treatments, clean water, proper sanitation, hygiene education, and supplies to help the prevention of disease. I traveled to Hargeisa at the end of May both to underscore our commitment to the people of Somalia as well as ensure that we were providing as much assistance as we could.
We know that there’s a severe and unabated humanitarian crisis in southern Somalia, and aid workers are unable to reach reliably 61 percent of people in need due to the risk, the insecurity, and the inaccessibility through the presence of armed groups, like Al-Shabaab. As you know, since January 2010, the United Nations World Food Program has unable – has been unable to operate in southern Somalia because of the extremely dangerous conditions. This is true for other international and nongovernmental organizations as well. It’s no coincidence that the Somalis who have the greatest need are living in the areas that are the most insecure. We are, however, as Ambassador Carson noted, very encouraged to hear that aid groups are now being asked to help in some of these insecure areas.
We are working aggressively with other donors and the humanitarian community to test the possibility of delivering assistance in these previously inaccessible areas and are working closely to identify means of assistance. We call on the international community to continue to step forward with the assistance needed throughout the region. As Don said, we expect the conditions to deteriorate, especially if the fall rains are not as good as they need to be, and this requires all of us to be working aggressively to meet the needs of the region. Thank you.
MS. FULTON: Okay. I’d like to open it up for questions. If you would help our briefers out, please just identify yourself and let us know who it is that you would like to ask the question. Do you want to go first, Michelle?
QUESTION: Yeah. I have two questions. Michelle Kelemen, NPR. The first one for Dr. Brigety. You talked about this extension at that one camp, but the Kenyans have been reluctant to open this, they’re worried about the influx of Somalis, they talk about concerns about terrorism. What are you telling them about that? Are you offering them any sort of assurances? And then I have one other question following up either for you, Ms. Lindborg, or for Johnnie Carson about whether U.S. sanctions on Al-Shabaab are complicating. I know you talk about the complications coming from the Al-Shabaab and the insecurity, but are U.S. sanctions preventing USAID agencies in going in?
DR. BRIGETY: Michelle, thank you very much for that question. As of last Thursday, the Government of Kenya has publicly decided to open the second camp. The camp is called Ifo II. I was standing next to Prime Minister Raila Odinga as he made that announcement to an international press gathering in Dadaab last Thursday. This is – as you’ve mentioned, this is a development that the international community has been requesting for some time. We welcome the Kenyan Government’s decision to open that camp. It is our understanding that while previously, the Government of Kenya saw opening the camp as essentially a security risk, only inviting more refugees in, they have recognized that, certainly over the last year or so, that there have been flows of refugees that have come unabated and, as they say, in increasing numbers just in the last several weeks.
Thus what has developed over the last several months is essentially a series of spontaneous settlements on the outskirts of the camps of Ifo, where refugees are settling in an unorganized way, in a way in which they aren’t properly registered. And that was seen by the Government of Kenya finally as an even greater security threat, having these large numbers of people that are coming in an unorganized way and filling them in an unorganized way, which is part of the reason why they decided to open up Ifo II.
We continue to work with the Government of Kenya. We are – continue to be strong partners with them. We welcome, as I say, this decision to open a camp and we look forward to their increasing cooperation as this crisis unfolds. Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: In response to the second question, U.S. sanctions are not the issue or the problem. The issue and the problem is Al-Shabaab. International organizations such as CARE, Save the Children, UNICEF, the WFP, don’t have sanctions. But it is those organizations that have been equally denied an opportunity to operate in south central Somalia. We call on all of those in south central Somalia who have it within their authority to allow refugee groups and organizations to operate there to do so. But the issue is Al-Shabaab. It’s not sanctions. Organizations do not – such as the ones I just mentioned – don’t have sanctions, but they’ve also been barred.
MS. FULTON: Thanks. Next question.
QUESTION: Thank you. Jill Dougherty from CNN. I wanted to follow up on the – testing the possibility of – excuse me – delivering this aid. Can you give us a better idea, Ms. Lindborg, of how this is being done? Do people go into the field? Are they talking to Al-Shabaab? What exactly is going on?
MS. LINDBORG: Under the auspices of the UN, they are testing what might be possible. The – clearly, what we all are hoping for is the ability to deliver assistance without some of the punitive conditions and the insecurity that have resulted from the Shabaab control over the last year or year and a half. So there are probes already being made, there are discussions underway, and we hope to have more information in the next week.
QUESTION: The probes? Is that discussion or –
MS. LINDBORG: Well, I think you saw in the media that UNICEF went last week with an expedition into the Baidoa. There are opportunities to work in select areas where there isn’t the impediments created by tolls, by taxing, by threats of insecurity, and by kidnapping. So where one is able, where we as the international community are able to provide assistance and ensure that it’s reaching those who are desperately in need, we are fully prepared to do so.
MS. FULTON: Next question. Right here.
QUESTION: Yeah. I will have – one question with – for – to Mr. Carson. You know Somalia – in 1992, there was a similar situation and the international community, including the United States, responded in a bigger way. What’s the next plan, apart from sending some donations to Somalia? Is there any other plan from the U.S. Government toward Somalia? Is there any (inaudible) you are going to provide Somalia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me say that the Horn of Africa has faced over the years a number of cyclical droughts. And indeed, back in the late 1980s, we saw another major drought situation occur. After that, I think my colleagues have pointed out that the FEWS NET program was established to be able to monitor and to warn about droughts. We also started working with various governments to improve their ability to adjust to extreme climatic conditions, to change crops, to be able to store and protect more food and to do a number of other things. The United States over the last decade has been one of the largest and continues to be one of the largest suppliers of humanitarian support and assistance to the region. We continue to work with governments throughout the region, and we hope that our Feed the Future program will contribute to better protection of people against droughts in the future.
MS. FULTON: Next question?
QUESTION: Another question for Assistant Secretary Carson. George Zornick from The Nation magazine. Last week our magazine reported on the existence of a CIA-run prison in Mogadishu. Is this something that you or the State Department was aware of, the existence of this prison?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I will not comment on any issues related to the CIA or to intelligence matters.
QUESTION: Can you say whether you’ve been working with the recognized officials of Somalia to brief them on what’s happening there?
MS. FULTON: We’re going to stick to briefing on the situation – the emerging humanitarian situation in the Horn today. So next question in that vein.
QUESTION: The World Health Organization yesterday issued a warning that 9 million people are at risk of cholera and measles outbreak in the region, and it has been aggravated by fast movement of the people who are exposed to the drought. And is there a clear picture that what has been done?
MS. LINDBORG: Hi. I – also in response to the previous question, we’ve looked very closely at the famine in ’92, and what we’ve learned is that there are several very important and critical steps that we, the international community, need to take. And the first is ensure that we’re able to address public health issues more effectively, including exactly the kind of communicable diseases that are most prevalent, especially when you have populations that are moving and populations that are malnourished. So it’s cholera, it’s measles, it’s diarrhea, it’s all these diseases that we need to effectively address and very quickly enable vaccinations and health treatments to reach.
Secondly, we need to ensure that there’s improved access of food. There are – there is availability of food in some of the markets. The inflation rate is so high that those – many families are unable to afford the food. And thirdly, one needs to get food in, especially therapeutic food for those who are at most risk, through high malnutrition, of reaching fatalities. We remain very concerned about the situation and are working very closely with the international community to ensure that we get the right approaches in quickly, based on what we know from past famines and past drought situations.
MS. FULTON: I think we have time for about two more questions.
QUESTION: Camille Elhassani from Al-Jazeera English Television. I had a question about Eritrea. You – Mr. Carson, you’ve called for them to provide the data so that you know what the situation is there. Has there – have you seen refugees from Eritrea moving into neighboring countries, and do you have an expectation that they are going to cooperate so that you and the other international community can help them?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Eritrea is a closed and increasingly reclusive country, and its government has not been particularly helpful in sharing data and information about the severity of the food shortages or the drought in its country. Because it is a part of the Greater Horn of Africa, we assume that conditions in Eritrea are probably quite similar to the drought conditions that we are seeing in other places – in Ethiopia and in Kenya, Djibouti, and in Somalia. Because we don’t know what’s happening, our understanding of the situation is limited, but we encourage them to be more open about their needs and the needs of their population.
MS. FULTON: Thank you. Last question, Brad.
QUESTION: Yes. I think for Mr. Steinberg. You said you’re going tomorrow to a donors conference in London. Could you just explain what you aim to accomplish there? Will there be new funding talked about, new plans about reaching new groups? What is this consolidated approach going to be?
MR. STEINBERG: Yeah, indeed. Once a year, the major development ministers from the OECD countries get together to coordinate to talk about larger development issues, to reflect on the state of what we’re doing. We have decided, as of yesterday at the request of the United States Government, to use that as an opportunity to draw us together to talk frankly about two issues – one, the situation in Southern Sudan and how we can promote an aggressive comprehensive response to the very exciting events in Juba with its independence, but secondly, to address the situation in the Horn of Africa.
We suspect that a number of ministers will come with new ideas, with new proposals for assistance. This is, as we’ve said, a rapidly changing environment, and we’ve already received very strong indications of international support coming together. We will also, in the Horn with Administrator Shah’s visit there, be coordinating with our partners UNHCR, OCHA, UNICEF, the World Food Program in particular, to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive response to what is, at present, one of the true impending disasters that we’re all facing.
QUESTION: Can I ask a Sudan question while we have Johnnie Carson here?
MS. FULTON: If you want.
QUESTION: There’s – I mean, there’s a letter going around today with a lot of activists talking about much tougher action against Sudan, including the possibility of drone strikes or cruise missile strikes to prevent ethnic cleansing going on in Southern Kordofan and Abyei, and I wonder if you’ve received these recommendations, whether you have any concerns about – what are your latest concerns about what’s going on in those two regions?
MS. FULTON: Would you indulge us?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Just –
MS. FULTON: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: — very, very briefly, only to say that we remain very focused on Sudan and the need to encourage both parties, North and South, to complete all of the elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that have not yet been resolved. These issues are Abyei, they are also oil and transitional financial arrangements, they also include the need to resolve issues related to citizenship, and five, issues related to border demarcation. It is important that both sides resume their discussions as quickly as possible to move towards a resolution of all of these issues.
We also remain deeply concerned about the continuing violence that we have seen in Southern Kordofan, and we urge the Government of Sudan to move as quickly as possible to stop the violence that is being perpetrated by its soldiers, and to align itself, again, with its commitments under the global – under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
MS. FULTON: Thank you.
MR. STEINBERG: Can I –
MS. FULTON: Oh, yes.
MR. STEINBERG: — just comment very, very quickly? Because USAID is indeed launching, in a whole-of-government approach, a very aggressive response to the humanitarian crisis that we’ve talked about here with about 180,000 people driven from their homes, both from Abyei and from South Kordofan. We do, as Assistant Secretary Carson said, have a very serious access problem, and in – especially in the Nuba Mountains. And we have called aggressively, both bilaterally but also multilaterally, on the Government of Sudan to open up access to those regions, to allow humanitarian workers in, to, as Assistant Secretary Carson said, to cease the violence that is occurring now, and to reach a permanent solution to the question of the SPLM’s North role in that region.
MS. FULTON: Okay. With that, I’d like to thank our briefers and thank you, everyone, for joining us today.
MS. NULAND: Good morning, everybody. As you know, this Saturday, July 9th, the Republic of South Sudan will celebrate a ceremony to mark its independence, culminating a six-year peace process. The U.S. presidential delegation to the ceremony will be led by our Ambassador to the United Nations, the Honorable Susan Rice. And the delegation will travel to Juba to attend this historic event today. We are very pleased this morning to have Ambassador Rice as well as several members of the delegation to talk to you about this trip. We also have Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development Don Steinberg.
Welcome, Ambassador Rice.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thank you. Good morning, everybody. I’m very honored to lead the delegation that will travel on behalf of the United States to Juba to welcome the new Republic of South Sudan into the community of sovereign nations.
As you know, the delegation will also include Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Brooke Anderson, the Deputy National Security Advisor and Chief of Staff and Counselor at the National Security Staff; General Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command; Deputy Administrator of USAID Don Steinberg; Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey, who is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, and formerly chairman of that subcommittee; Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who of course is our Special Envoy of the President to Sudan; Barrie Walkley, who is the U.S. Consul General in Juba; and Mr. Ken Hackett, who is president of Catholic Relief Services, an NGO that’s been very active for many years throughout Sudan.
I’m particularly honored, in addition, that we’ll be joined on the delegation by General Colin Powell, who as you all know, along with one of my predecessors, John Danforth, worked so hard to lay the groundwork for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. And obviously, General Powell did that while he served as Secretary of State.
So as you can see, this is a very strong and bipartisan American delegation. It reflects the President’s deep commitment to developments in Sudan and to supporting the new Republic of South Sudan. And we will be active, all of us, all members of this delegation, in our time in Juba, pushing forward on the issues that are so important and remain to be resolved.
Let me just say a few more words about what we’ll be doing, why it’s important, and what message we’ll be bringing on behalf of President Obama. Our trip will, of course, focus on the celebration of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan. Our day will include, in addition to the ceremonies, a meeting with President Salva Kiir and a ribbon-cutting to officially transform the U.S. Consulate in Juba into the U.S. Embassy to the new Republic of South Sudan.
As you know, this independence celebration is a deeply significant event for the people of South Sudan, who, after a half century of war and more than 2 million people lost, finally will have the ability to determine their own future. By any standard, this is a historic moment, and the fact that it’s occurring as a result of a democratic exercise through a referendum that occurred peacefully and on time is itself all the more remarkable.
The United States has worked tirelessly to help make the promise of this moment a reality. First, it would not have been possible without the steadfast leadership and personal engagement of President Obama, who raised his voice consistently and eloquently as he did before what was a historic gathering at the United Nations last September, where he spoke in support, quote, “of a future where, after the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress.”
Our efforts have also been championed by Secretary of State Clinton and bolstered by the hard work of General Scott Gration, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Ambassador Carson, and many others who have logged dozens of trips to the region and countless sleepless hours on the phone and around the negotiating table. Thanks to these efforts and the hard work of many others in the international community and at the United Nations, the moment is approaching when a future of peace is finally possible.
But let’s be absolutely clear: This is a fragile and fraught moment as well. It cannot and must not be taken for granted, least of all by the Government of Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, who will have to still work exceptionally hard to achieve an enduring peace and enable the emergence of two viable states that are peaceful neighbors.
A number of core issues remain to be resolved. A permanent resolution of Abyei’s status is still elusive. And the situation there, in spite of an agreement on temporary security arrangements signed on June 20th and the imminent deployment of a UN interim security force for Abyei, is still extremely volatile. An estimated 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Abyei.
And meanwhile, of course, we’ve seen brutal fighting in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan between Sudanese armed forces and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army North troops who come from that state. And the Sudanese army continues to carry out aerial bombardments that are hitting civilians. And on June 28th, the government and the SPLM North agreed to a framework of political and security principles for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, but they haven’t agreed yet to any cessation of hostilities.
The United States clearly has condemned the escalating violence, especially by the Government of Sudan against civilians, and the detention and targeting of UN national staff and the deliberate obstruction of access for humanitarian agencies. In light of this situation, the United States is extremely concerned by the government’s decision to compel the departure of the UN mission in Sudan from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and elsewhere in the North on July 9th. It’s vital that the United Nations be allowed to maintain a full peacekeeping presence in these areas for an additional period of time in order to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, support the implementation of any cessation of hostilities agreement, and vitally, to protect civilians.
Furthermore, we’re concerned that the parties haven’t finalized arrangements on major outstanding CPA issues, including the border, citizenship, and oil. We believe the parties need to urgently resolve these remaining issues. In the meantime, it’s critical that the parties cooperate on such key issues as oil and citizenship in order to avoid major economic shocks or social upheaval. Allowing these issues, including the final status of Abyei, to linger without resolution for any length of time could swiftly destabilize the future relationship between these two states. So for our part, the United States will continue to be extremely active in supporting the implementation of the CPA in all of its stages, as we have since its inception, and particularly over the last 12 months. And we will continue to deliver the same consistent message on behalf of President Obama.
Saturday’s celebration is above all a testament to the people of South Sudan and secondly to the parties to the CPA. But as we’ve made very clear, the success of the CPA and the resolution of the larger issues in Sudan, including in particular Darfur, will remain a strong and consistent focus of the United States. As we mark progress for the Republic of South Sudan and an important new chapter in the history of what has been a very troubled region, the United States will remain resolute and clear-eyed about the road ahead.
Thank you, and I would now hand it over to Ambassador Carson.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Ambassador Rice, thank you very, very much, and I am very pleased and honored to be joining you on this presidential delegation to South Sudan. July 9 marks the technical conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, an accord that ended over two decades of conflict and suffering in Southern Sudan. The people of South Sudan can now look forward with great hope and expectations to the future, despite the enormous challenges that still must be addressed to secure the peace and to preclude another outbreak of conflict.
The United States remains deeply committed to helping South Sudan achieve its political and development goals, as well as working constructively with the government of Khartoum to improve and normalize our relations. To realize their dreams of peace and stability, we believe the leaders of both South and North will need to collaborate intensely and sincerely to achieve these goals. This means a reinvigoration of their efforts to ensure that their separation is characterized by dignity and mutual respect and in a manner that strengthens the continued viability, security, and economic prosperity of each of the two states.
The governments of North and South Sudan still need to reach agreement on critical issues from the CPA that have not yet been resolved. These are, among others, oil and transitional financial arrangements, citizenship and citizens’ rights, the resolution of the five areas along the North-South border, and the future status of Abyei. We also expect Sudanese leaders to implement fully their June 20 agreement on Abyei, which includes a full withdrawal of Sudanese armed forces from that territory.
We also expect the North to fulfill its obligations to hold and conclude in a timely manner meaningful popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. It will be critical for the parties to work together to resolve the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis that now exists in Southern Kordofan. The current situation is deeply troubling. We call on the parties to reach agreement on and immediately implement a cessation of hostilities and allow for aid workers to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by this conflict.
After years of fighting, the people of South Sudan have earned their right to peace. Their children deserve a more promising future that leaves the conflict of generations of the past behind. We hope that their leaders will seize this unique opportunity to establish a durable and self-sustaining peace that will provide a solid foundation for two viable states sharing a prosperous and stable future in which their people can realize their long-delayed hopes and aspirations.
The United States, acting in concert with the United Nations, the African Union, and the European Union and other international partners, will continue to play its part in assisting the new state of South Sudan to strengthen its sovereignty, build its capacity for enlightened governance, and contribute to its economic development. This will be a challenge for all of us. The United States stands ready to work with the people of South Sudan to meet that challenge. Thank you.
I’d now ask Ambassador Steinberg.
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: We have a real challenge ahead of us in supporting the process of a new state in Africa, and the United States has had a long history of supporting South Sudan both before the completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and subsequently. At the explicit instructions of President Obama, we have worked to provide the people and the Government of South Sudan with the tools that they need to build a nation. And we often shy away from the phrase “nation building,” but in this case it is particularly appropriate.
Ambassador Carson spoke of the expectations of the Sudanese people, and indeed they have high expectations for what peace will mean for them. And already over the course of the last few years, we have worked with the Government of South Sudan to move themselves from a concept into a viable, functioning government. We’ve helped provide a million people with access to water. We’ve helped expand from school enrollment rates of about one in five to now 68 percent. We have financed the construction of roads, bridges, electrical power stations. And perhaps equally significant, we supported the January 2011 referendum on self-determination, which was overwhelmingly in support of independence.
In this effort, we’re working in partnership with a variety of agencies, the World Bank, our Troika partners, the United Kingdom and Norway on developmental and humanitarian assistance. And in that regard, we are prepared to host in September an international conference that will draw together the international community with the Government of South Sudan as a platform to demonstrate their vision and their future for their country and to engage with the international community. That will be held here in Washington towards the end of September.
In line with that effort, we have identified four key pillars for USAID and the whole of government to engage in, and these pillars are the following: to create an enabling environment for the promotion of private investment in South Sudan; to strengthen the agricultural sector to become a true engine of growth for South Sudan; to develop a common platform in institutional structure for the international community to engage in this new country; and to build the human capital necessary to govern and deliver services.
And it’s important to remember that this is a facilitative role, largely, that we’re performing. South Sudan has ample resources from its petroleum reserves and other assets to provide the basic needs for its development. However, in order to make sure that occurs they need the governmental capacity to ensure that resources are well used, that corruption doesn’t take place, and that bottlenecks and other impediments to development don’t occur.
I need to highlight as well that we’re responding to large humanitarian needs throughout South Sudan, and in particular now in Southern Kordofan, in Abyei, where we’re seeing probably a total of about 200,000 people displaced by recent fighting. Many of those are traveling to the South, and we are working with the Government of South Sudan to provide resources to them. I myself was in South Sudan about six weeks ago and met with a variety of Northerners who had come south and who were looking for a new life in the South but had very high expectations for what that life would provide to them. We’re concerned about their safety. We’re concerned about the citizenship questions in the North, which need to be resolved, otherwise we may see a massive flood of new IDPs coming South. And as Ambassador Rice said, we continue to press for humanitarian access to assist those in need in places where access is restricted, especially South Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains, and Darfur.
So we’re very excited about the future. As of July 9th we will have a full USAID mission in Juba along with a mission in Khartoum. And we are delighted to be pursuing the vision of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to help this country emerge as a prosperous and free country.
MS. NULAND: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: Ambassador Rice – and maybe, Ambassador Carson you can weigh in – I have a wider question that maybe we can go a bit narrow as well – about your support for this referendum and for the independence of Southern Sudan has been very public and very emphatic. And I’m wondering whether you think – where this leaves the relationship with the North? And whether the people – whether you feel there’s – the North now feels any kind of stigma because of your strong support for Southern Sudan? Even in some of the comments, I mean, that – I think the Northerners feel that – and just from some people we’ve talked to, the Northerners feel now that you’ve chosen kind of Southern Sudan over the North. And the relationship with the government now, how do you – now that they feel that they’ve fulfilled their commitments on Southern Sudan, how do you, as you say, get them to continue to fulfill their commitments on Darfur, on some of these other things while managing their expectations on things like the terrorism list and such?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well first of all, what we have favored is faithful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which the two parties signed of their own volition, presumably because they determined it to be in their own – each of them in their own interest. So there’s no choosing of sides in that regard. And clearly, with the referendum having been held and the people of South Sudan stating their preferences clearly and overwhelmingly, we and others in the international community – indeed the entirety of the international community, every member state on the Security Council, every member state in the United Nations is committed to supporting and welcoming the Republic of South Sudan into the community of nations.
That said, obviously we have a vital interest in the success of peaceful and mutually beneficial relations between the government of the South and the government of the North. We want very much, as I think you’ve heard many of my colleagues say and Ambassador Carson just reiterated, to be in a position to build a more normal and more constructive relationship with the government in Khartoum. But for that to occur, as we have discussed on numerous occasions directly with them, we need to see full and final implementation of all aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and clearly there are some important elements that remain unresolved.
We have also, from the very beginning, been very plain about the United States’ deep concern about what is transpiring in Darfur and now more recently in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Our interest, however, is seeing those issues resolved, the conflict end, political processes put in place that would meet the aspirations of the people of those regions within the country of Sudan, and that’s what we’ll work to continue to do.
We have many facets now to our relationship with the government in Khartoum. There is great potential for that relationship to deepen, but that depends on progress, as I’ve described, and progress in the roadmap that we have discussed over the course of the last many months with the government.
QUESTION: But they’re expecting – just a quick follow-up – they’re expecting now that they’ve signed this agreement, the South Sudan is an independent country, “It’s time for you to take us off the terrorism list.”
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, in fact, the government in Khartoum knows exactly what to expect because they have heard it very precisely and directly from Ambassador Lyman and from many other senior American officials. There should be no confusion or ambiguity about expectations. We have been as plain as it’s possible to be in black and white, and we are fulfilling our side of the bargain. And as the government fulfills its commitments, as we hope it will under the CPA, we will be in a position to make the progress that we hope to make.
Johnnie, do you want to add anything to that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Just – thank you. Just one brief comment, and that is to say that the long-term political and economic success of the South is dependent upon having a strong, politically stable, and economically viable partner in the North. And the long-term viability of Khartoum’s government is dependent upon having a politically stable and economically prosperous partner in the South. Both of these countries will, in fact, remain very, very dependent upon one another for a long period of time. It is in their mutual interest, it is in our mutual interest to see two stable, viable, and strong economic states next to one another, and we hope that that message also gets out.
QUESTION: A question for whoever can answer it: The Southern Sudanese have said that the biggest and best present that the United States could give them on their birthday would be lifting the sanctions, and that if they don’t do that, that their oil-based economy just simply won’t be viable. So my question is: Are you – is the United States prepared to either split off South Sudan from existing sanctions on the whole of Sudan or lift sanctions on all of them as part of your efforts to get them kind of up and running?
And a second question is: What prospects are there for extending UNMIS given that, as far as I understand, its mandate sort of ends on July 9th under the CPA? How can you get them to keep them on?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I will take the second one. Do you want to –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I’ll go check.
AMBASSADOR RICE: The sanctions that have been in place on Sudan – there are different sorts and different types going back to 1993. They would not bear on and be a legacy that will be the responsibility of the Republic of South Sudan. So there are technical aspects to that, but the intent of the sanctions would not be consistent with that.
QUESTION: So that’s not – just so I’m clear on that – that they will no longer be subject to those sanctions as they emerge as a new country?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I mean, there are technical steps that would need to be taken to accomplish that, but the sanctions were imposed for the behavior of a government that is not the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. So we will make accommodation for that reality.
With respect to the United Nations presence, there are multiple aspects to this. In the first instance, we – the United Nations Security Council expects to adopt a resolution as early as Friday, which will establish a new UN mission for the Republic of South Sudan. It is a mission that will have various aspects to it, from security support to protection of civilians to support for building the institutions of the state. And a substantial share of the current UN presence or force in Sudan will shift over and become part of this new mission for the South. And there will ultimately be some troops that leave, some that come in, a different-sized civilian component, et cetera.
In the North, the portion that is above the 1156 border, which includes Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile but not limited to it, there are also currently several thousand UN forces under the current mission UNMIS. The government, very regrettably – and as I mentioned in my comments, to our grave concern – has indicated that it will insist that the UN terminate its mission in the North, effective on the 9th. The United States has been using all of our diplomatic and other instruments, as have the other permanent member of the Security Council and I think indeed many members of the Security Council, to try to persuade the leadership in Khartoum that it is not in their interest that the UN be compelled to leave abruptly or prematurely while key CPA issues remain unresolved and while, in particular, there is an issue with the common border, and a particularly volatile and grave humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan and potentially Blue Nile state.
So this is something we’re very concerned about, we’ve been focused on for quite some while. It’s not just the United States; it’s all of the leading members of the United Nations and others beyond that. And we will continue to do what we can to underscore to Khartoum that it is in their interests and the interests of the region that they not take this step. But they seem thus far to be quite determined, and this poses a great deal of worry for the security of people in Southern Kordofan for the common border, for humanitarian access, and a number of other important issues.
MODERATOR: I’m cautious of the schedule of our principals, so we have time for two more (inaudible).
QUESTION: Two quick ones. You say that it’s very obvious for the government of Khartoum what they need to do to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But I was wondering if you could specify what exactly you expect next of them. I mean, I think they could argue that you keep changing the goalposts, and I was wondering whether you could be a little bit more specific.
And then on the conference that you mentioned for the end of September, could you tell us a little bit more about what kind of conference it is? Is it a pledging conference? Is it a brainstorming conference about how to take this further?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: As Ambassador Rice has indicated, the United States has laid out a very clear and specific roadmap for the government of Khartoum that would lead to a clear improvement in relations and include the removal of Khartoum from the state sponsor of terrorism list. That roadmap was originally conveyed to the government of Khartoum by Senator Kerry, and it has been reiterated over the last five or six months in numerous diplomatic dialogues, initially by Ambassador Scott Gration and now by Ambassador Princeton Lyman.
Clearly, the first step that must be done is the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. What we will see on Saturday with the independence of South Sudan is only one element of the full implementation of that agreement. As many of you may recall, that the CPA called for a resolution of both the problems in the South as well as in Abyei. There were supposed to be, on January 9, two referenda. One took place in the South; the other one was supposed to but did not take place in Abyei. As we have all mentioned, the issue of Abyei has not been resolved. In fact, since May 19th, the situation on the ground became worse and is only now returning to the status quo ante. It is imperative that the government of the North remove all SAF troops from Abyei, live up to its commitments in an agreement made with the South on June 20th with respect to Abyei.
But beyond that, the post-referendum issues that require immediate attention and completion are issues related to oil and transitional financial arrangements. There must be a resolution of the five remaining border disagreements along the South. There must be clarity on the issue of citizenship as well.
In addition, we have indicated to the government of Khartoum that we are prepared to review and look at the removal of state sponsor of terrorism designation from that country. But we have said that any removal of Khartoum from that list must be accompanied by full implementation of Abyei and must, in fact, meet all the criteria for the removal of the state sponsor designation under existing laws.
We are working as hard as we can with the authorities in Khartoum to make progress on these issues, but we are not yet at the end of the line with respect to full implementation of the agreement. We have not moved the goal posts. The government is clearly aware based on our verbal and written transmissions to them of exactly what is required.
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: On the conference, the Government of South Sudan asked us to hold this conference as an opportunity for them to, two and a half months into their tenure, to show the international community a variety of commitments they’re prepared to make to be good development partners and good partners for the private sector. And so they have asked for the opportunity to present their development plans, to talk about what they’re going to be doing to keep corruption under control, to talk about how they’re going to be creating a conducive environment for the private sector, and a variety of other issues.
We’ve been working with the World Bank, with the African Union, with Norway, the United Kingdom, with Turkey and a variety of others to hold that as a two-day program. The first day is going to focus on what I’ve just described. The second day will focus on the private sector, and we’re working with the Corporate Council on Africa to put together a wide variety of opportunities for foreign investors. Again, this is a unique situation. There will be resources that are available from the Government of South Sudan, so this isn’t a question of having to need tremendous inflows of outside capital, but they do need help in this regard.
The other thing I would say is that it will also be an opportunity for us in the U.S. Government to announce some deliverables, some steps that we’re prepared to take in order to encourage South Sudan. As you may know, last year we provided some $300 million worth of assistance to South Sudan in the areas of education, housing, health care, and a variety of other areas. We’ll be announcing new plans at that point.
The other aspect I wanted to highlight vis-à-vis this conference but also more broadly vis-à-vis our development efforts in South Sudan is our emphasis on gender; our insistence that the government incorporate women into not only the delegations that they’re sending to these missions but also fully integrate gender considerations into all of their development efforts. And this is something that we stress very strongly with the government.
QUESTION: Just to go back about the designation on the terrorism list, is it under review at the moment or has the review not started yet, if there could be clarification on that? And if I could ask the same question about Darfur, how important is it to see some movement on Darfur? There is some fear that the focus on South Sudan and South Kordofan and Abyei is having less focus on Darfur. So what are your expectations from the government of Khartoum on that?
AMBASSADOR RICE: We initiated the process of examining Sudan’s status under the state sponsor of terrorism designation following the referendum. But as Ambassador Carson said repeatedly, there can be no lifting of that designation unless and until Khartoum fulfills its obligations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as we outlined very clearly and specifically in the U.S. roadmap that Ambassador Carson described. So that’s where we are.
With respect to Darfur, the United States has been for many years and remains deeply focused on the horrible humanitarian situation that persists in Darfur. We have been very active in every respect, most directly and consistently through the efforts of Ambassador Dane Smith to try to address and resolve not only the humanitarian but the political and security issues that remain of grave concern in Darfur. In the United Nations, we are very much focused on Darfur, on efforts to negotiate various aspects of resolution of the disagreement through Doha and other means. We have a large UN peacekeeping force on the ground in Darfur with a robust mandate to protect civilians, and we are urging that it do all it can within its capabilities to fulfill that mandate.
So by no means has Darfur been sidelined or fallen off the radar screen; quite the contrary. Unfortunately, now there are several other hot areas that require attention in parallel, but not to the exclusion of Darfur. And certainly, as we have elaborated with great specificity and in great detail, the roadmap for improved relations between the United States and the government in Khartoum, there are different stages and different elements to it, and the situation in Darfur is an important component. It is not the component that has immediate bearing on what we have been discussing, the state sponsorship designation. That’s tied to the criteria in the law, as Ambassador Carson said, as well as to performance on the CPA obligations. But there are other aspects of normalization and improvement, major aspects of normalization and improvement, that do depend on progress in Darfur.
QUESTION: Can you perhaps clarify that? Because I was under the impression – maybe it was from the last administration and maybe it’s a little bit different now.
AMBASSADOR RICE: It’s been a lot.
QUESTION: But I was just under the impression that Darfur was an issue in the terrorism list, kind of, criteria that obviously CPA was very important but that there was going to be no lifting of Sudan from the terrorism list until the situation improved in Darfur. Now, maybe it’s improved to the point where that’s not part of the criteria anymore?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I stand by what I just explained.
MS. NULAND: Good. Thank you very much to our briefers. Safe travels to Juba, and thanks to all of you.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thank you.
MS. FULTON: Good afternoon, and welcome to the State Department. I’m very pleased that you could join us for a special press brief this afternoon on the 2011 U.S. Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, known as the AGOA Forum. We’re very fortunate today to have with us Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, who’s the deputy U.S. trade representative, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, and Patrick Fine, the vice president of the Department of Compact Operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
At this time, I’m going to turn it over to Ambassador Marantis. Each of our speakers will make a brief statement, and then we’ll open it up for questions. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR MARANTIS: Hi, everybody. This is much more snazzy than what we do at USCR in terms of room. We’re really excited to be here today and talk to you about the upcoming AGOA Forum, which, as you know, will take place in Lusaka, Zambia next Thursday and Friday. The AGOA Forum, as many of you know who have been involved in it before, is an amazing opportunity to gather together U.S. and African senior officials to really take stock of where we’re going on our trade and investment relationship.
As you all know, the U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship rests on two very important pillars. The first one is AGOA, which has provided incredible access for exporters from Africa to take advantage of the many opportunities in our huge consumer market. AGOA opens up the U.S. markets at 98 percent of Africa’s products, and it’s – there have been success story after success story of exporters and the employees that work for those exporters that have been able to take advantage and really build lives on the basis of the opportunities that have been provided under AGOA for products to be used here in the United States.
AGOA, as many of you know, expires in 2015, and there are key steps that we need to take over the course of the short term and the long term as we look towards 2015. Two major things that we hope to accomplish in the very near future, which we will talk to our African partners about next week, is there’s a provision of AGOA called third country fabric that expires in 2012. And that’s a provision that allows many African countries to use fabric from third countries in order to export apparel products to the United States. It’s been a really important provision in helping to grow the apparel sector in many African countries, which, as you know, the apparel – textile and apparel sector is oftentimes the foundation – foundational sector that really helps to boost economic development and leads to growth in other sectors. That provision expires in 2012. We are committed to working with Congress to getting that renewed as quickly as possible and hope to do so as early as this summer in order to provide the predictability and stability that investors need in both the United States and Africa to ensure a smooth flow of textile and apparel trade from Africa to the United States.
Another really important provision that we’re working on as part of AGOA this summer is to ensure that when South Sudan becomes an independent country that it will be able to be eligible for AGOA benefits. That will require Congress to add South Sudan to the list of AGOA-eligible countries. And so those are two very important things that we hope to do in the course of the next upcoming weeks and months in order to make sure that AGOA works as well as it can and to reaffirm our important commitment to Africa under AGOA.
We also plan to talk to our African counterparts next week about AGOA generally – what have we learned from the past 11 years of AGOA, what’s worked well, what hasn’t worked well. And we’re going to need to really have a very in-depth and candid conversation as we look towards a seamless renewal of AGOA when it expires in 2015. So that’s one pillar of our relationship, our trade and investment relationship with Africa that we will have extensive conversations next week in Lusaka.
The other pillar, which is as important, is trade capacity building. And AGOA opens the door to the U.S. economy. But with an open door, exporters need help in being able to avail themselves of the opportunities that AGOA provides. That’s why trade capacity building is so important. We – through USAID, we fund four hubs around Sub-Saharan Africa, and these – trade hubs is what they’re called – are what help African exporters learn how to take advantage of AGOA. They learn how to market their products in the United States, they learn what types of products are most commercially viable in the United States. And through the work of these hubs, we’ve developed – have been able to work very closely with various countries throughout the continent to really develop some very interesting and exciting products that have benefited from AGOA.
The challenge that we face now is how to take what we’ve learned in terms of successes and multiply them. One of the downsides or one of the challenges of AGOA is it’s not used as much as I think either Africa would like or we would like. And so the challenge that we have – and this is going to be a fundamental element of our discussions next week – is how can we work together bilaterally with our African partners as well as regionally through the regional economic communities to help increase the diversification of what Africa sends to the United States under AGOA.
So we’re really excited about the forum next week. It’s an opportunity for Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Kirk to meet with their counterparts. It’s an opportunity for me, for Ambassador Carson, for all of the agencies that are going to be there, to work with our counterparts in various – and our various African partners – to really see how we can take the trade and investment relationship that we’ve developed under AGOA to the next level, and that’s our goal next week, and we’re very excited about it. So with that, let me turn it over to Ambassador Carson.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Demetrios, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. We’re here this afternoon to talk about the AGOA Forum, which will take place in Lusaka, Zambia next week. But before I do that, I would like to take note of some of my recent travels.
I returned Monday from Nigeria, where I had the honor to lead the presidential delegation to the inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s new president. That event signified substantial progress in Nigeria’s democratic development and a new beginning for the Nigerian people. We in Washington look forward to working with President Jonathan and the people of Nigeria to help them build on the 2011 elections to create a just, strong, and more prosperous future for all Nigerians.
I would also like to draw your attention to the current situation in Southern Sudan. The United States condemns the offensive operations being undertaken by the Sudanese Armed Forces in and around Abyei town and the presidential decree dissolving the Abyei administration. The actions being taken by the Government of Sudan are blatant violations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005, and they threaten to undermine the mutual commitment of the CPA parties to avoid returning to war. We call on President Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir to meet immediately and to agree on a way forward that restores calm, upholds the CPA, and recommits both sides to negotiated political settlements on the future of Abyei.
Let me now turn to AGOA. AGOA is an important part of the overall engagement of the United States with Africa. We seek to help the nations of Sub-Saharan Africa become important partners in the global economy, and the trade opportunities offered under AGOA provide the means to help that happen. Just as Africa can profit from taking further advantage of AGOA opportunities, stronger economies and markets in Africa offer opportunities for American companies and workers as well.
In 2010, AGOA-eligible countries exported some $44 billion in products to the United States, although petroleum products continue to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports with some 91 percent of the share of overall AGOA imports. The program has also helped promote new non-traditional and value-added exports from Africa. This includes products such as apparel, footwear, processed agricultural products, and other manufactured goods. Increased trade is one of the fastest ways to expand economic growth, spur development, and reduce poverty across Africa. Building effective regional trade relationships promotes overall economic growth and contribute to increased U.S.-African trade.
AGOA plays an important role in the Administration’s priorities in Africa and helps support regional economic integration and provides incentives for beneficiary countries to improve their overall investment climates, reduce corruption, improve infrastructure, and harmonize trade standards to help them become more competitive in the global marketplace. We strongly support AGOA and look forward to working with African countries to strengthen the AGOA relationship between the United States and Africa.
MR. FINE: Since we’re here to talk about AGOA and trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa, I brought some – an import, an African import with me. I personally imported this. (Laughter.)
My name’s Patrick Fine. I’m the vice president for Compact Operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the MCC. I want to say a word about the MCC and one of the resources that the U.S. Government has for supporting increased trade and investment in Africa with the U.S. and with other parts of the world.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the MCC, we are a development agency of the U.S. Government that focuses on reducing poverty through economic growth, so our focus is very pertinent to the objectives of AGOA. We provide development assistance through a non-traditional approach, and by non-traditional, what I mean is we have a specific focus – economic growth. We have a selective process where countries have to qualify in order to be eligible for MCC financing. That process is rigorous and it’s done by – through independent third-party indices. We have – and that selection process creates very powerful incentives for governments to improve their policy performance, and that – I’ll say a word about that, because that’s very important to creating the environment that supports increased trade and investment.
We put a very strong emphasis on country ownership. So countries are responsible for preparing investment ideas and submitting them to us once they’re deemed eligible, and for implementing the programs themselves. That also creates a powerful incentive for good performance in carrying out the programs.
Now, where our programs support the objectives of AGOA and the increasing international trade and investment are, first, we work with well-governed, poor countries. The majority of countries that are in – we have a global portfolio, we work with countries around the world, but the majority of the countries that we work with, over half are in Africa and two-thirds of our total financing is in Africa. African governments – as I said, we put a high priority on country ownership, so African governments identify the investments themselves; investments that will reduce the constraints to economic growth. Not surprisingly, most of the investments that they’ve identified are investments to build the infrastructure and the capacity to allow them to export more, to grow their economies through investment and the exporting.
So there are two principal ways where MCC serves as a very powerful resource for supporting the objectives of AGOA. One is through the incentives that I mentioned, that create powerful incentives for good policy performance to create the business environments that allow businesses to flourish and allow African countries to provide the kind of environment that attracts private investment so that it can be responsive to the incentives that are created by AGOA for exporting to the U.S.
An example from Cape Verde, which was the first country we had a compact with, is that their – Cape Verde is the second or third best performer in terms of business environment in Africa, and much of the reforms that they’ve undertaken were specifically done to qualify for MCC assistance. So you can see it’s a strong influence to getting the kind of environment that supports business activity.
Aside from the incentives, the way that African countries have chosen to use MCC financing is in large part to invest in infrastructure that supports exporting and supports investment. For example, African nations are using MCC financing to build ports in Benin and in Cape Verde, to build an airport in Mali, to build roads in Tanzania. Those investments provide the basis within the country for business to grow, for products to move, and for the countries themselves to have the capacity to take advantage of the incentives that are provided for under AGOA. It works very well in combination with other parts of the U.S. Government, with our interagency partners, with USAID. Ambassador Marantis mentioned the trade capacity work that USAID has been doing.
Some MCC work also focuses on trade capacity, for example, on customs work, on justice – there’s some justice sector work. But it’s a good match between the building out the infrastructure so that countries have the wherewithal for their businesses to be responsive with the work that USTR and USAID and the State Department are doing. Thank you.
Oh, let me say one more – sorry. I always think of one more thing to say. One more thing to say is that we’re particularly excited about this AGOA being in Zambia, because we’re in the process of developing a program with Zambia right now. We expect that program to be finalized within this calendar year, and our CEO, Daniel Yohannes, is going to be going out to the AGOA Forum and he’ll be participating there.
MS. FULTON: Thank you, Mr. Fine. With that, I’ll invite all of our speakers back to the podium, then we’ll open up for your questions.
QUESTION: Can I just ask one – I do have an AGOA-related question, but I wanted to – since Assistant Secretary Carson brought up the other two issues, can I just ask a very brief one on your comments on Southern Sudan?
One, the White – John Brennan was in Khartoum today meeting with Sudanese officials. Can we assume that the message that you delivered to us right here was the same message that he delivered to – or at least part of the same message that he delivered to Sudanese officials on the condemnation of the invasion of Abyei and the demand for – or the call for an immediate meeting between Bashir and Kiir?
MR. CARSON: Thank you very much. I can confirm that John Brennan was in Sudan. He is a part of the same administration; the message is uniform throughout the Administration. We are deeply concerned about the situation in Abyei and in Southern Sudan. We want to do as much as we possibly can between now and July 9 to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully complied with. We want to see a withdrawal of Sudanese troops from the areas of Abyei and we are looking for both senior leaders to meet together to discuss how to defuse tensions between the two parties and to fully implement the remaining items that have to be complied with to complete the CPA. But the message is the same and is consistent.
QUESTION: Okay. And then just the last thing on that is that the other thing the White House statement said was that he was going to talk to them about the review of the State Sponsor’s designation. And I’m just wondering is this a – have the Sudanese been told or are you – will the situation in Abyei have any effect on the review or possibly taking them off the list?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: The review and the basis for taking them off of the list are defined legislatively. And that will be the most important guidepost. They have to meet the legislative requirements for being taken off of SST, but there is no doubt that the events of the last several weeks do undermine people’s confidence in the commitment to follow through on the roadmap that was laid out some months ago.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that one? I was just wondering, in the past the statements have been relatively evenhanded, the message being both to Khartoum and to Juba that they need to follow and uphold the basic precepts of the CPA. Why isn’t Brennan going to Juba? Are you now assigning more blame for the situation on Khartoum?
And secondly, Khartoum itself has said, I think on May 28th, that military operations in Abyei were at a halt, but your statement had it in the present tense. What’s our understanding of what’s going on now?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Mr. Brennan is in Khartoum because that is the capital of Sudan. He went to talk primarily to leaders, among other things, about SST. That is an issue that has to be resolved in Khartoum and not in Juba. But it did offer an opportunity for him to have complete discussions with the Sudanese about our policy issues and concerns.
I think I’m going to – if I could, say let’s –
QUESTION: Can I ask my AGOA question now?
MS. FULTON: Yes. (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Yeah. Okay. I think we –
QUESTION: One of you mentioned MCC and roads and Tanzania specifically. And I’m wondering if any of you can answer does the U.S. have a position on the Tanzanian Government’s plan to build this trans-Serengeti highway?
MR. FINE: We’re not – I mean, we’re not involved in that. The MCC’s not involved in that at all.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me say that we are fully aware of the concerns that have been raised in this country and in other countries about the environmental impact that the trans-Serengeti road will have on the very large, spectacular, and almost unique migration of animals from the Serengeti up to the game parks in Kenya. We have discussed this issue with senior leaders of the Tanzanian Government. When I was last in Dar es Salaam approximately five weeks ago, I raised this issue both with the president of Tanzania as well as the foreign minister. They are clearly aware of the concerns and are trying to address them in the most appropriate fashion. They are – they know the value of the wildlife, the importance of the Serengeti. They have no desire to destroy that, but they also are looking for ways to stimulate economic development in other parts of the country. But we do discuss it with them. It is an issue that’s been brought to our attention, and we have, in fact, brought it to the attention of the Tanzanian Government.
QUESTION: Do you expect Secretary Clinton to raise it with President Kikwete and others when she’s there in ten days or whatever it is?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me just say that Secretary Clinton is planning to travel to Dar es Salaam immediately after the end of the AGOA Forum in Lusaka. We are looking forward to that trip, Secretary Clinton is looking forward to that trip. Tanzania is, as my colleagues have probably said, Patrick and others, is a model development partner. It is a strong multi-party democratic state. It is one of our strongest partners – yes, sir – it is one of our strongest partners in the development field, and we are pleased to be going there. This is a friend of the United States and a stable partner.
MS. FULTON: Our speakers’ time is a bit limited, so I’d like to bring it back to AGOA-related questions while we (inaudible).
QUESTION: I have an AGOA-related question. Looking back over Secretary Clinton’s comments about AGOA over the past couple of years, it seems like she’s had a fairly consistent message, which is that yes, this is a great thing but Africa’s got to do more to reduce its own trade barriers, fight corruption, and figure out ways to diversify. So as you’ve already mentioned, 90 plus percent of their exports to the U.S. are petroleum. What evidence is there that they are doing any of these things? And what – I mean, you’re talking about extending AGOA in 2015. Is it just going to be more of the same, you’ve got to do this and it never happens? What’s the lever whereby this is actually going to happen?
AMBASSADOR MARANTIS: We’ve been – and Ambassador Carson will have some comments as well. I mean, we’ve been working very closely with our African partners on trying to, for instance, spur regional economic integration, which is one of the key ways that Africa will help spur its own economic development. We have work underway with the East African Community, with COMESA, and with others, to help provide assistance to knock down internal barriers. And there are some really interesting statistics – I don’t remember them off the top of my head – on if you send a container from Dubai to Mombasa, it costs $1,000, and then it costs $3,000 to send the same container from Mombasa to Kampala. I mean, those are the kinds of things that we want to work and are working on with Africa to help, particularly as the EAC integrates, to create a more regional whole where the customs barriers that have so far impeded trade go down. That’s good for U.S. exporters exporting to Africa because they’re able to export to a more seamless market. It also will exponentially increase the development prospects of Africa as the regional economic communities really continue to make progress.
MR. FINE: Let me just say a word. The – first, it’s difficult to talk about Africa as a whole. There are many countries in Africa that have made tremendous progress in improving the business environment, improving their policy environment, in better managing their own finances. The kind of customs barriers that Ambassador Marantis is talking about, there’s been a tremendous change. If you look in East Africa, for example, it used to be at the Kenya-Uganda border, to cross that border, for a truck to cross that border, the truck driver would have to go to seven different offices and in each office fill out papers in triplicate or quin-triplicate and have them processed separately, and it took maybe half a day to do that. Now there’s – it’s – you go to one office, you fill out the papers, you go.
So it’s still not perfect. There are still delays at those borders, but they’re far less than they used to be. So there’s been real progress, and that progress you can see reflected in the growth of African countries. The GDP growth or the economic growth in African – in many African countries has been quite high. And you see increased trade and increased regional trade. In West Africa, the level of increased regional trade has gone up substantially in the last 10 years. So I – there is real progress. AGOA contributes to that because countries want to be eligible, and so do programs like the MCC that set up specific policy targets that countries have to meet in order to qualify.
QUESTION: Okay. Maybe just one little quick follow-up. I mean, just to put it another way, is the Secretary going to have a different message for AGOA this time around or is it going to be the same message that we’ve heard the past two years running? Is there something new to be said about AGOA at this stage?
AMBASSADOR MARANTIS: I mean, I can speak for Ambassador Kirk because at USTR and I’m in it, and it’s a consistent message throughout the Administration. I mean, one of the key things that we really need to focus on in this AGOA forum is what’s worked well and what are the – what have been the successes, what are the challenges, and what do we learn from them as we together in this government work with Congress and work with stakeholders to ensure a seamless renewal in 2015? There are a lot of questions that have come up over the course of the past 10 years about the eligibility criteria in AGOA, how much is AGOA helping to promote regional economic integration, questions that you raised about petroleum and other things. We need to take stock of those and think about those in partnership with the beneficiary countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. And that’s one of, I think, the key goals for both Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Clinton, is to really foster and engage in a really candid and honest discussion about what have we learned in the 10 years – what’s worked, what hasn’t worked well, and how can we make AGOA better?
QUESTION: How long an extension of the third-country fabric provision are you seeking?
AMBASSADOR MARANTIS: So it expires right now in 2012, and what we’re seeking is a three-year extension until 2015, which is when the current AGOA program is set to expire.
QUESTION: Mr. Carson, when you think about the renewal of AGOA, how do you factor in the question of China as a rival for African raw materials, for African labor, for its own trade relationships with African countries in – I mean, we’ve already seen it, particularly in West Africa, and it doesn’t seem that Beijing is going to be backing off from looking to Africa as a source to supply its own economy. (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: There sure are. And let me just say, if I could follow up on Ambassador Marantis’s response to the previous question and also what’s new, one of the things that we are doing is not going out and simply talking to and lecturing to Africans about trade. AGOA provides an opportunity for us to hear from Africans, as Ambassador Marantis pointed out, what they’ve learned as well as what we’ve learned. This is a discussion, it’s a dialogue, it’s a conference, and we want to be able to benefit from their observations so that our observations and our actions are more meaningful moving ahead.
We want to see Africa become a larger, more significant, and active partner in the global economic community. We think that the capacity in Africa to do so is there. Despite its large petroleum exports and mineral exports, Africa today still accounts for only about 1.5 percent of global trade. We see Africa in the years to come as a economic powerhouse, very much the way we have seen Latin America transformed as well. Our desire is to ensure that Africa can, in fact, grow economically. If it grows economically, it is also going to produce greater stability for Africa. Greater stability means fewer conflicts and a greater contribution to their people and to the world community. Our desire is to see a stronger Africa economically, and I think AGOA and MCC help to provide that foundation.
China question: China is, in fact, a strong and aggressive economic competitor in Africa. It is clearly concerned about trying to acquire for its own robust economic engine significant oil, mineral, and natural resources to help feed its industrial growth. We see that not as a threat to us but simply as strong, aggressive, economic competition. And what we say to Africa about that is that they should, in fact, hold China to the same high standards that they hold American, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, or other developed economies to when they’re doing business.
MS. FULTON: I think we have time for maybe one more question. Right here.
QUESTION: I understand there’ll be some kind of pre-conference consultations at a very high level. I wonder if you could talk about that, and do you think that those consultations will sort of set the agenda at the meeting itself?
AMBASSADOR MARANTIS: So the forum – the ministerial-level events at the forum start next Thursday and Friday. The day before, there is a day of interaction between the government and the private sector, and the Africans have their own consultative group where they have sort of a high-level discussion amongst themselves as they prepare for the ministerial discussions at the AGOA forum. So there will be a high-level – and that is usually amongst the African ministers. From time to time, we will participate in certain aspects of it, but that’s really more for the African ministers to sort of consolidate their views as they meet with Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Kirk.
MS. FULTON: Okay. Thank you very much, everyone. We appreciate your time. Thank you.
MS. FULTON: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Very pleased today to have with us Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson to talk about the recent elections in Nigeria. He was on hand to observe personally, so he’ll be able to give you his on-the-ground accounts of the results. So without further ado, Assistant Secretary Carson.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you very, very much. Glad to be here with you this afternoon to talk a little bit about the recent elections in Nigeria. Nigeria has just completed its most successful elections since its return to multiparty democracy in 1999. Despite some technical imperfections, those elections represent a substantial improvement over the flawed 2007 electoral process. This reverses a downward democratic trajectory and provides the country a solid foundation for strengthening its electoral procedures and democratic institutions in the years to come. The Nigerian people have shown to the world their resilience and will to have their voices heard. These elections were a real opportunity to choose their leaders.
This week, Nigerian voters returned to the polls for the fourth time and final time to select their state assembly members and governors. On April 26th, all but two states held elections. Elections in Kaduna and Bauchi states occurred April 28th to give additional time for security to return to those two areas. International and domestic observers reported the April 26th elections to be generally well organized, albeit with a lower turnout in various locations compared with voter turnout earlier this month.
Following the deplorable post-election violence of the previous week, we are heartened that many Nigerian voters went to the polls to vote in an environmentally – environment largely free of violence. We remain concerned about allegations of fraud and ballot box snatching in various jurisdictions, and we strongly urge Nigerian authorities to investigate and take corrective actions on all of these allegations. We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission and especially its chairman, Professor Jega, and the security services for addressing challenges and improving their efforts with each progressive election.
We are confident that INEC leaders will continue to take steps to further improve the electoral process to ensure that some political actors do not divert to their old – revert to their old ways of subverting the will of the Nigerian electorate. We are partners in the international community, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action against individuals of any political party who seek to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, whether at the state, national, or local elections.
Again, we congratulate the people of Nigeria on holding very successful elections. Thank you.
QUESTION: Secretary Carson, two questions. One, the CPC has said that it has evidence of irregularities and that it plans to go to court over those. So question one is: To what extent do you think that the existing irregularities cast a shadow on President Jonathan’s victory? Second, and in a way the more important question is: To what extent do you think that he is likely to be inclusive going forward so as to help lay to rest or to help unify the country? Would you expect or hope, for example, that when he names a cabinet he will reach out to opposition figures? Can you give us your sense of that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I hope that INEC will take seriously all allegations of election irregularity. There is no doubt in my mind that there were some imperfections, some technical problems, and probably some justified cases of rigging. But it is up to the election commission to investigate those. I do not believe that any of the irregularities or technical imperfections undermine the overall outcome of this election and that the elections do reflect the will of a majority of the Nigerian people.
I cannot say what kind of cabinet or government President Jonathan will put in place. But I do note that his vice president is, in fact, a former northern governor and that the constitution does call for the president of the country to select from individual states various cabinet members. I hope that he will act in both a responsible and inclusive manner in the selection of those individuals for his cabinet and that in doing so, he will be reaching out to heal the political divisions that were uncovered during the election process.
MS. FULTON: In the back.
QUESTION: I have a question actually about Sudan. Before we came out here, the Treasury Department pulled the Bank of Khartoum off of the sanctions list, and I wonder if you can explain that move, and then more broadly how Sudan is doing on this roadmap toward normalization with the U.S.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me say that I’m not aware of this recent decision to pull the Bank of Khartoum off the sanctions list, and so I will not comment on that.
With respect to the roadmap, we continue to see progress in the implementation of the roadmap, and we continue to encourage the Government of Sudan to continue to fulfill its obligations that remain under the roadmap. One of the most important aspects of this was the successful referenda election in South Sudan that went from January 9 to 15. That went extraordinarily well. It was largely free of violence – large turnouts, well organized, and reflected the will of the people of the South to secure their independence. We continue to encourage very strongly that the Khartoum government, the NCP, and the Southern Sudanese Government, the SPLM, to work to resolve the remaining key issues that are a part of the conclusion of the CPA. This means resolving the Abyei crisis before July 9 and resolving the issues of oil and wealth-sharing, border demarcation, as well as issues related to citizenship.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that one? Just to stay with the question of Abyei, President Bashir is quoted today as having said, quote, “If there’s any attempt to secede Abyei within the borders of the new state, we will not recognize the new state,” close quote. What is your response to that, and does that not sort of ratchet up tensions ahead of July?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me just say that those comments are not helpful at all, and they only serve to inflame and heighten tensions. It is important that both sides – those in Khartoum and those in Juba – focus intensely on trying to resolve the key issues that have not been completed under the CPA. Abyei is one of them. This must be done before July 9, and it is important that President Bashir and the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir continue to meet, negotiate to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
MS. FULTON: Back to Nigeria?
QUESTION: Yeah. Back to Nigeria. How much do you expect these elections in Nigeria to promote efforts towards democracy in the broader region? Can you –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I think the success of the Nigerian elections are primarily of importance to the Nigerian people, but they also send a very strong signal across Africa. Nigeria is one of the two most important countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the most populous country in Africa with 150 million people. It’s also the second largest Muslim country in Africa after Egypt.
The people of Nigeria have clearly demonstrated a desire to have a democratic government, to participate in democratically-run elections, and I think this reflects a desire of many people across Africa. It also is an indication, too, that if Nigeria, with its large size and population, can, in effect, run and manage successful democratic elections, that it is possible for many of the other smaller states to do so as well. It also indicates that the democratic trajectory not only in Nigeria, but across West Africa has not stalled but continues to rise.
QUESTION: Might you be soft-pedaling the violence a little bit? I’m reading some wire material today about perhaps 500 people killed and Christian churches set afire. And also people from the elections say that they’re very discouraged by this and that they prefer to not have an election if this sort of thing happens. Might you be looking through rose-colored glasses at this sort of thing?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Absolutely not. But let me first say we deplore the violence that occurred particularly after the conclusion of the presidential elections a week and a half ago. We saw widespread violence throughout much of northern Nigeria. Both the president and the main opposition candidates – both called on their supporters to not support violent activities and to work to restore peace as quickly as possible.
I think that there has been a history of violence associated with Nigerian elections in the past. But in this election, we have clearly seen a much more responsible security force and a security presence in and around the electoral sites. So it’s important that violence not be a part of the democratic process. We deplore it, and I think senior officials in Nigeria have also deplored it as well. We hope that these elections will be a baseline for greater improvement in both their technical procedures as well as in their security as well.
MS. FULTON: Do we have time for maybe one more question?
QUESTION: Can I ask about Uganda? There are reports this morning that a fourth opposition leader has been arrested, and my question is about the U.S. – the Administration’s response. Are we considering any kind of pressure on the Ugandan Government?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: We have seen the reports of the arrest of several former presidential candidates for attempting to carry out peaceful demonstrations in Kampala that were designed to highlight rising oil and food prices. We have also seen with great concern and regret the very serious and apparent mistreatment of one of those candidates, Dr. Besigye. We have expressed our concern about what appears to be harassment of President – of Dr. Besigye. I have, myself, spoken to the Ugandan foreign minister about this and have urged that the Ugandan Government act both in a responsible and civil fashion in dealing with the arrest of individuals attempting to carry out peaceful protests.
QUESTION: When did you speak to the foreign minister about that, and was that specifically about the case that you referenced?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I spoke to the foreign minister today, and it was specifically concerning the apparent ill treatment of Dr. Besigye as well as the government’s reaction to peaceful protests by others.
QUESTION: And did the foreign minister give you any reason to believe that the government would seek to treat such people better and to show greater respect toward peaceful protesters?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: He did indeed. He said that he hoped that President Museveni would be meeting with the opposition political parties and leaders on Tuesday of next week. I urged political outreach and reconciliation to resolve the differences that the government has with opposition leaders. I also encouraged that there be a scope for civil peaceful protests and that government reaction to those protests should be tempered, responsible, and civil.
MS. FULTON: Okay. And thank you for your time, Assistant Secretary Carson.
QUESTION: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you.
I would like to thank Steve McDonald and the Woodrow Wilson Center for inviting me to speak today. It’s a pleasure to see many longtime friends and colleagues. The Woodrow Wilson Center plays a vital role in providing policymakers like myself with the deep thinking and analysis that helps guide our work.
My original goal for today’s talk was to provide you with a broad overview of the major issues and policies we anticipate for the coming year. Before I do that, however, I would like to first draw your attention to two situations of grave and immediate concern to the United States. The first has largely been eclipsed by developments in places such as Japan, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is not making big headlines or receiving much coverage on the news networks. Nonetheless, it is something on which we should all be focused. I’m talking about the elections in Nigeria.
Nigeria is one of the two most important countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and what happens in Nigeria has consequences for Africa, the United States, and the global community. This past weekend Nigeria was to have held the first of a series of elections that will shape the direction of Africa’s most populous country and second-largest economy.
Nigeria has not had credible national elections since 1993, and overcoming this negative legacy remains a significant challenge. This challenge was manifest on Saturday, as Nigeria’s independent electoral body, INEC, intervened a few hours into the polling to postpone the first round of voting for the National Assembly. The postponement was due to a variety of logistical problems, notably the failure to deliver voting materials to numerous polling stations across the country. We share the disappointment of INEC and of the Nigerian people that this important electoral event had to be postponed, and we renew our call for credible and transparent elections in this critically important African country.
As many of you know, the last elections in 2007 were deeply flawed and in no way reflected the ability and capacity of Nigeria to organize and run successful elections. They were also a major embarrassment to many Nigerians. Rigging and theft of ballot boxes took place in full view of the public. Violence was rampant, and actual voting did not even occur in many places. The results announced by the electoral commission had no basis in reality.
Most Nigerian and international observers agreed the 2007 elections represented a major setback for democracy in Africa. Although the former elections commissioner Maurice Ewu has gone, to this day, nobody has been held accountable for the fraud and mismanagement in running those elections.
The appointment last June of Attahiru Jega as national electoral commissioner raised expectations that this year’s elections would meet minimum standards of credibility. Dr. Jega is a respected university administrator, professor, and civil society activist who brought well-needed integrity and competence to the position. He has inspired many Nigerians to become more actively involved in the elections process and to insist on greater transparency to combat fraud. Dr. Jega has also given international observers greater access to the electoral commission, and he has been been open to advice from election experts from Latin America, Africa, and the United States.
However, as we have seen this past weekend one man alone cannot overcome significant systemic and logistical challenges, nor can one person or one electoral event transform a political culture in which stolen elections and disregard for basic democratic principles have been the norm for decades. The logistical challenges and inevitable confusion associated with the administration of elections in a country of Nigeria’s size and population—not to mention its poor infrastructure—also create opportunities for political manipulation. And some politicians have acted in ways to make proper electoral oversight all the more difficult.
Although the level of violence associated with the 2011 election might, in some locations, appear diminished from what we witnessed in 2007, any election violence is unacceptable, and it casts a dark shadow over the entire electoral process. Assassinations of candidates, bombings, riots, stoning of motorcades, other forms of political hooliganism, are to be condemned. The spoilers must not be allowed to prevail.
Despite the poor start this past weekend, we encourage all Nigerians to exercise their rights as citizens to vote and to have their votes counted openly and transparently. Reports of a significant and peaceful turnout of Nigerian voters last Saturday are a positive indication of their democratic aspirations. We continue to support fully Dr. Jega and other like-minded election officials in their efforts to achieve better election results. But, we are also monitoring the political environment closely. Democracy is important, and we are prepared to take appropriate measures against those individuals who violate basic democratic norms, as we have in places such as Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar.
Our government will not turn a blind eye to a repeat of the political violence and wholesale electoral theft that took place in Nigeria in 2007. If Nigeria’s current elections are not a significant improvement over the 2007, and if the current elections do not meet the expectations of a majority of voters, Nigeria and Nigerian citizenry will lose confidence in their leaders, their democratic institutions, and the capacity of Nigeria to sustain a positive democratic trajectory.
We believe Nigeria has an historic opportunity to allow the Nigerian people the opportunity to elect their local, state and national representatives in a climate free of violence and intimidation. We hope that opportunity will not be lost.
The second situation of great concern to the United States is the current crisis in Ivory Coast. For the past four months, the African Union, ECOWAS, and United Nations have been calling upon Laurent Gbagbo to accept the choice of Ivorian voters and hand power over to Alassane Ouattara, the winner of last November’s presidential elections. Accredited Ivorian and international observers assessed the first and second round of those elections to be free, fair, and credible. The U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) conducted a separate and thorough analysis of over 20,000 tally sheets from all the polling stations and suported the finding of Cote d’Ivoire’s own Independent Electoral Commission that Allasane Ouattara had won the second round with 54 percent of the vote. However, the Ivorian Constitutional Council nullified the results from several northern polling districts to eliminate Ouattara’s margin of victory. The Council did so without any regard for transparency and explanation of the complaints that were used to justify the nullification.
Having lost the elections but unwilling to relinquish power, Gbagbo is now betting that the current chaos, violence, and humanitarian crisis will cow the African Union and international community into backing down and accepting a settlement. Gbagbo’s intransigence has exacerbated tensions and provoked violence across the country; he and his ministers have openly threatened the United Nations operation, which is charged with protecting civilians who are caught in the crossfire of his political ambitions. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and violence last week probably has pushed the death toll to well above a thousand.
Gbagbo’s attempt to cling to power regardless of the high cost to millions of Ivorian citizens, regional stability, and to Africa’s reputation is a direct insult to the many millions of Africans who have worked so hard in recent years to promote economic development, democratic reforms, and political stability.
The situation in Cote d’Ivoire is frequently compared to that of Libya in terms of the international community’s responsibilities to protect innocent civilians. That notion is simply wrong. For the past four months, the United States has been working closely with its African and other international partners to achieve a peaceful outcome to the Ivorian crisis. A robust international peacekeeping force has been on the ground since 2002, beginning first as an ECOWAS operation and then converting in 2004 to a U.N. led effort. The peacekeepers prevented what many analysts believed could have turned into another prolonged bloody civil war like what had occurred in the previous decade in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Over the past four months, the peacekeepers have helped deter and contain violence while ECOWAS and the African Union tried to achieve a diplomatic solution to this crisis. French forces have also played a key role in preventing Cote d’Ivoire’s civil war from escalating over the past decade, and, as we see this week, are taking action with U.N. forces to take out Gbagbo’s heavy weaponry and thereby reduce the risks to the civilian population in Abidjan. I think these actions demonstrate the willingness and ability of the U.N. and French forces to adapt to the changing circumstances in what has become a highly volatile situation. Without the presence of the peacekeepers, there is no doubt the situation in Cote d’Ivoire would be far worse than it is now.
Overall, the international community’s response in Cote d’Ivoire thus far has been appropriately matched to the political and military circumstances on the ground. Gbagbo has virtually no airborne military assets, and UNOCI, with French assistance, has been able to neutralize his heavy military weaponry, a very different picture than the situation in Libya.
We should nonetheless be humble about what can be expected of external interventions in general. We are in regular contact with President Ouattara and his Prime Minister Soro to insist that forces claiming to fight on their behalf refrain from violence against civilians, looting, and other excesses. We are heartened by President Ouattara’s and Prime Minister Soro’s clear directives to their forces to maintain the utmost respect for the civilian population, and their calls for transparent international investigations of all reported human rights abuses. We have also raised our concerns about violence committed by pro-Gbagbo forces with representatives of his dwindling regime. We have made it clear that actors on all sides will be held accountable for war crimes and other atrocities.
In the remainder of my remarks today, I will provide an outlook for the coming months and overview of some specific policy priorities. I’m happy to answer your questions afterwards, but am also very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.
Some of you might already be familiar with the five focal areas of our Africa policy: strengthening democracy and governance; helping mitigate conflict; promote economic growth and development; assist with addressing its health issues; and focus on prevailing over certain transnational problems. Over the past two years, Africa has made gains in some areas, maintained the status quo in others, and in experienced a few setbacks.
The recent referendum in Southern Sudan was a great achievement for that country and for Africa as well. Over a year ago, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) appeared at risk of unraveling. In response, we stepped up our diplomatic engagement and increased our human and material resources. Our international partners, particularly the United Nations and African Union, led the negotiations and referendum mechanics, but our interventions at critical moments helped sustain the progress and momentum. It is one of our greatest achievements in the past two years.
Smaller scale but equally intensive diplomatic efforts, in collaboration with ECOWAS, our European partners, and Guinean leaders, helped avert the outbreak of war in Guinea-Conakry and steered that country through a transition that led to credible elections last year. Likewise, our collaboration with ECOWAS facilitated the eventual transition back to a democratically elected rule in Niger.
I wish that I could include Zimbabwe and Madagascar on this list of countries that made progress this last year, but clearly the situation in both remains paralyzed as their hard-nosed leaders continue to try to manipulate the democratic process in their favor. Increasing political repression and economic stagnation in Eritrea has put that country on par with North Korea.
Over the next year, we will continue to work in close collaboration with our African and other international partners to address the many challenges ahead while capitalizing on the great opportunities that already exist in Africa. The most historic event for sub-Saharan Africa this year is likely to be the emergence of Southern Sudan as an independent nation on July 9, 2011. The referendum was only one component of a still incomplete process. The North and South must still negotiate and implement a wide range of agreements, and South Sudan must begin building the foundations for a stable government and growing economy. The United States has already committed hundreds of millions dollars to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and we must remain engaged in the coming months and years.
The 17 national elections scheduled for this year across Africa are also noteworthy. Although there’s more to democracy than just elections, they do serve to be seen as an important barometer of overall governance, and we must remain proactive in encouraging success. The election scheduled to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in November will be critical for consolidating the still fragile peace and building public confidence in that government. The Congolese people and international community are increasingly concerned with the government’s performance in areas such as the rule of law, corruption, human rights, and security sector reform.
Tough and unresolved conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, and the eastern DRC are likely to remain among our greatest preoccupations over the next year. We recently appointed a senior diplomat, Ambassador Dane Smith, to intensify our efforts on resolving the Darfur conflict. And Ambassador Princeton Lyman was named last week as the President’s Special Envoy replacing Scott Gration. We are seeing signs of some progress in Doha, and urge the parties to continue to negotiate in good faith. We are encouraging the armed movements that are not participating in the Doha Peace Process to send a delegation to Doha to try to resolve this problem. The prospect of normalized relations between Khartoum and the United States, as laid out in the road map presented by Senator Kerry to the northern Sudanese leadership several months ago, also provides a new context in which to develop a constructive diplomatic relationship between Khartoum and Washington.
Regarding Somalia, last year we rolled out a revised approach to this twenty-year-old crisis. We call it a “dual-track strategy” because it provides for continuing support of the Transitional Federal Government and also recognizes the potential role that other actors can play in ending conflict and establishing basic governing institutions. Without question, the TFG remains weak and highly dependent on the African Union Mission to Somalia, AMISOM, for its security and survival. Its mandate expires in August, and its members will need to find a credible way to build legitimacy moving ahead. For the other part of our dual track strategy, we are looking to continue our support for AMISOM and increase our engagement and support for Somaliland, Puntland, and local administrative entities and civil society groups in south central Somalia such as the current local administration in Galguduud.
Secretary Clinton’s visit to Goma in 2009 underscored the importance we attach to seeing an end to the violence in the eastern DRC. We are planning to reinvigorate our diplomatic efforts in the coming months, to include the presentation of a revised strategy. We have heard numerous calls for the appointment of a roving special envoy, but we believe for a variety of reasons that our ambassadors and their embassy teams in Kinshasa, Kigali, and other capitals are in a strong position to tackling these problems.
The UN peacekeeping operation MONUSCO also has a vital role to play in the Congo, and we will explore ways to improve its capacity and strengthen its mandate. Security sector reform is vital for building the professionalism of the DRC military and weeding out those responsible for past atrocities. Recent U.S. Dodd-Frank legislation on conflict minerals provides us with still another tool to improve the situation in the DRC.
In the course of my forty-year career, I have seen many situations considered “intractable” that have come to resolution to the surprise of the pessimists. For this reason, I have learned to be persistent and use the tools at our disposal. Despite lack of progress in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Eritrea, we will not slacken in our efforts. You don’t win a basketball game with a single fancy dunk or jump shot from mid court. Those baskets only make a difference if you’ve kept your score up with mostly repetitive, boring layups and ordinary shots from inside the lane. That’s what diplomacy is about.
The Obama Administration is committed to recognizing Africa’s strategic importance and drawing more attention to its enormous promise and potential. This is especially important in the economic arena, where there is growing awareness of Africa’s potential as a high-growth market and investment destination. We remain committed to a strong and revitalized AGOA, and look forward to participating in this year’s AGOA Forum in June in Lusaka, Zambia. But we must do more in the business arena to remain competitive.
I have only touched on a few of the priority issues and events anticipated for the coming year. My staff will also be working on a variety of other “normal” diplomatic tasks of a trans-global nature, such as preparing for the next United Nations climate change conference in South Africa; implementing programs to improve food security and health; promoting regional economic cooperation; becoming more attentive to the welfare of women and girls; engaging more with civil society and youth; promoting the rights of disabled persons. But we are also engaging in dialogue to address the many challenges facing Africa.
Thank you for your attention.
MR. TONER: Good afternoon, everyone. Well, we thought it was – would be useful to invite our Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson to come and give you all a very brief update on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire. Obviously, the situation remains fluid up to us walking out here, but we thought it would be useful for him to come and answer some of your questions, and then I’ll follow with the daily briefing.
Assistant Secretary Carson.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you.
MR. TONER: Sure, thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Mark, thank you. Good afternoon. Let me start with just a brief statement on the situation in the Ivory Coast, and I’ll take questions after that.
On November 27, 2010, Alassane Ouattara was elected president of Cote d’Ivoire. The elections were peaceful, and international observers commended the Ivoirian people for their high rate of participation. The United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, the African Union, and the international community writ large have reaffirmed President Ouattara’s victory over former President Laurent Gbagbo.
Since December, Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down in defiance of the international community and the will of the Ivorian people. Over the past four months, the people of Cote d’Ivoire have lived through a political crisis that has devastated their economy, created a humanitarian crisis that threatens the region, and led to the deaths of over 400 Ivoirian citizens.
This week has seen some of the most intense fighting in Cote d’Ivoire since the political crisis began in late November. The United States calls on all parties to exercise restraint and to make the protection of civilians their highest priority. The people of the Cote d’Ivoire have already paid a very high price for democracy. We call upon both sides to ensure that civilians do not pay an even higher price in the future.
Those who choose not to heed this call will be held accountable for the atrocities and the human rights violations that they commit. The United Nations and the international community will investigate all alleged human rights violations. Those implicated in directing or carrying out these heinous acts will answer for their actions.
The United States and the international community have invested in seeing a peaceful and democratic future for Cote d’Ivoire. On March 30, the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution reaffirming its support for President Alassane Ouattara and calling on the 11,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire to step up its protection of Ivoirian citizens, take direct action against those indiscipline forces who have targeted civilians, and to seize heavy weapons. These measures are absolutely essential in preventing more violence.
This is an important moment for Cote d’Ivoire, a time for all Ivoirians to play a positive and constructive role in the future of their country. The road ahead will not be easy, but the people of Cote d’Ivoire are up to the challenge. President Ouattara has outlined a plan for reconciliation and reconstruction for all of Cote d’Ivoire, and we hope that all Ivoirians will contribute to building a peaceful and prosperous future for their country.
Thank you. I’ll take some questions.
QUESTION: Yeah. This is maybe a little bit out of your remit, and quite frankly, I have to say I’m not optimistic on getting an answer. But what in your mind – the situation that you’ve described in Cote d’Ivoire sounds an awful lot like the situation in other places, or at least one other place, where the Administration has decided to intervene militarily. Can you explain why you don’t – you – don’t think that that kind of intervention is needed or desirable in Ivory Coast, given the fact that things are so dire on the ground?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: The international community has intervened in the Ivory Coast, and that intervention is showing results. The other country that you’re thinking about is in the Maghreb. But let me just say that there are some 11,000 UN peacekeepers on the ground in the Ivory Coast. They are supplemented by French military units that are a part of that UN peacekeeping force.
Secondly, the government – or the former government of Laurent Gbagbo does not have helicopter gunships, jet aviation, or tanks in the numbers that we have seen in the other country that you have mentioned, nor have we seen the tremendous loss of life or the exceedingly large number of people racing for the borders. This is not to say that there is not a humanitarian crisis in the Ivory Coast; there is. The reason why we are so concerned about the Ivory Coast today is that if there is, in fact, a full-scale civil war in that country, it will not only lead to large refugee flows out into Liberia and to neighboring states; it will also probably lead to growing instability in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other countries that have been plagued by instability before.
We’re concerned about this. We’re concerned about the hundred thousand Ivoirians that have already left and gone to Liberia. But there is a difference between the two countries that you speak of. The United Nations has been engaged, including in a new resolution just last night on this issue.
QUESTION: Right, I got – but what – could you outline for us what the American component of the UN operation is in Ivory Coast, what the U.S. is contributing to that other than perhaps just money?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: The United States contributes about 25 percent of the financial wherewithal to all international peacekeeping operations, and this is no exception. What we have contributed is a great deal of diplomacy, diplomacy at the highest levels of the U.S. Government.
President Obama has been directly involved, Secretary Clinton has been directly involved, Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg has been involved, I have been involved and our Ambassador in the region. We have worked closely with the United Nations, we’ve worked closely with the French, we’ve worked closely with Alassane Ouattara, and we have worked closely with the leaders of ECOWAS. Sometimes our political influence is as significant as what we put on the ground with respect to military might.
QUESTION: Well, right – well, except for, in this case, the political influence doesn’t – which has been brought to bear, since December, it hasn’t resulted in Gbagbo leaving, correct?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Well, I think the situation is quite fluid. If you have followed the events over the last 24 hours, you know that Alassane Ouattara’s forces have made substantial gains throughout the southern part of the country. In the west, they have made gains along the Liberian border. They have captured the second largest port city of San Pedro. They have captured the ceremonial capital of the country, Yamoussoukro. And they have made gains on the eastern side as well.
The only place where there is significant and substantial resistance to the forces of Alassane Ouattara are in and around Abidjan, and the news that we have is that the forces of Alassane Ouattara are now on the outskirts of the city.
QUESTION: Ancillary to that, there’s some reports that this conflict could be over in hours or a matter of days. What is your take on that? Obviously, you would support a complete takeover of Abidjan by the Ouattara forces. Also, are you aware of the army chief of Gbagbo taking refuge in an embassy in Abidjan?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Absolutely. We have confirmed reports from the South Africans themselves, who have released a statement that the chief of the army staff, General Philippe Mangou, his wife, and three children last night asked for asylum in the residence of the South African Ambassador in Abidjan. We have unconfirmed reports that the head of the gendarme has also sought asylum in another embassy, but we have not had that report confirmed.
There is a clear indication that the military forces of Gbagbo have, in fact, started to disintegrate. The rapid pace at which Alassane Ouattara’s forces have been able to move across the country from east to west and up to Abidjan suggest that there have been widespread desertions in the Gbagbo forces. The departure of his army commander lends greater credence to that.
With respect to the first part of your question, I think it would be premature and probably a little bit reckless for me to predict when Gbagbo will fall, whether it will be in the next several hours, the next several days, or the next several weeks. But it is absolutely clear that he is in a substantial and significantly weakened position, having lost most of the territory that he holds in the south and with defections among his senior military ranks.
QUESTION: Yeah. Since Gbagbo and his forces are not doing well at all, are you in conversations with Ouattara’s side about how to handle, say, the eventual capture of Gbagbo, should he be taken alive? And are you – are these talks premature or are you –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: There is still an opportunity for Gbagbo to step aside in a fashion which will prevent widespread bloodshed and a difficult fight in Abidjan for power. We hope that he will see and seize this opportunity to step aside peacefully and encourage his supporters to lay down their arms and not to engage in urban conflict.
We are especially concerned about the youth militia, the Jeunes Patriotes, who have been manning roadblocks throughout Abidjan – undisciplined, unemployed youth who have come to the side of Gbagbo. We encourage Mr. Gbagbo, we encourage some of his senior leaders, Foreign Minister Djedje, Mr. Blé Goudé, to encourage that all of these young men who are manning roadblocks who have been accused of carrying out assassinations to lay down their weapons and participate in the reconstruction of the country.
If, in fact, there is major violence in Abidjan and Gbagbo does not step aside, he and those around him, including his wife, Simone Gbagbo, will have to be held accountable for the actions that they failed to take to stop it.
QUESTION: Wouldn’t he be held accountable anyway for the actions he’s taken until this point? I mean, he’s been responsible for a number of deaths.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Exactly. We’re looking and we certainly will and I think the international community will certainly hold him accountable. But he does have an opportunity, but that opportunity is slipping away.
MR. TONER: Any other questions? (No response.) Thank you. Thank you so much. That was good. Appreciate it.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Okay.
MR. CROWLEY: (In progress) one of our regional assistant secretaries here at least once. There’s been many things that you’ve seen in terms of the work this week on Africa. Certainly the high-level meeting that’s happening on Sudan is an example of that, and also the Secretary’s bilateral today with President Museveni. But there are a lot of things that you haven’t seen in terms of engagement by others, including Deputy Secretary Steinberg yesterday on Somalia, Assistant Secretary Carson on a wide range of issues from Zimbabwe to the Congo to others, so we thought we’d try to have Johnnie for about 20 minutes just to kind of give you a broad sweep and then answer your specific questions.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: P.J., thank you very much, and thank you all for coming this afternoon. It’s a pleasure to see a number of the Washington faces also migrating up to New York with us at the UNGA.
As P.J. says, this has been an important UN session for us because of the Administration’s focus on Africa. Two things that are happening this week that are critically important: One is our engagement on Somalia, which occurred yesterday; and the engagement on Sudan, which will happen this afternoon.
But over the course of the last several days, Secretary Clinton has, in fact, had a number of important bilateral meetings, including a very long and productive meeting yesterday with the South African Foreign Minister Mashabane, who is one of the most impressive foreign ministers on the continent. She also had a brief meeting with the president of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan. And this morning she had a very productive hour-long meeting with President Museveni. Let me say a little bit about that meeting, if I could.
President Museveni is probably one of the most important leaders in East Africa, and certainly in the continent. And he has, through his military, provided the backbone of the AMISOM peacekeeping forces in Somalia. He has probably in excess of 5,000 of the nearly 8,000 troops on the ground helping to defend the TFG government and carrying out both a UN and a AU mandate. The Secretary expressed her deep appreciation to President Museveni for what he is doing in Somalia on behalf of the AU and also on behalf of the international community.
The Secretary also took the opportunity to indicate to President Museveni that the U.S. will continue to work with him and his government as he seeks to end the repressive activities of Joseph Kony and the LRA. As you know, the LRA has been one of the most ruthless rebel groups in all of Africa, having started its rampage of terror in Uganda, taking it to Uganda, and taking it from Uganda to Congo and into the Central Africa Republic. We will continue to work with the Ugandans as they try to eliminate the scourge of the LRA, and we will certainly continue to provide them support and assistance.
One of the other big things that we’ve been working on here is on Somalia and our Somalia policy. Yesterday afternoon, there was a major meeting on Somalia chaired by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. There were approximately four or five heads of state there, including the prime minister of Ethiopia, the president of Uganda – President Museveni, and a number of the foreign ministers, including the foreign minister of France Kouchner, the foreign minister of Italy Frattini, the foreign minister of Great Britain, Mr. Hague, and we were represented at that meeting by our Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg.
Mr. Steinberg pointed out to those there that we see the problem in Somalia as a national problem, a regional problem, and also a global problem. It is a problem that has metastasized over the last two decades, which has led to a situation where we now have international piracy, foreign fighters going into Somalia, and some groups in Somalia supporting remnants of the al-Qaida East Africa cell that was responsible for the destruction of our embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in August of 1998.
It’s a regional problem because of the large number of refugees that flow out of Somalia into neighboring Kenya, an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 move out every year from that country into Kenya, but refugees going into Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, and Djibouti as well; large amounts of illegal arms flowing, large amounts of illegal commerce. Somalia is a collapsed state with a weak government unable to project either power or stability or to provide services to its people.
The African Union has stepped up and has put troops on the ground, but it does need additional support in terms of more troop contributing – troop contributors, more material support, and more monetary support. The U.S. Government has been working very hard alongside of African governments to gain more men, more materiel, and more money for this force. At the last African Union meeting approximately six weeks ago in Kampala, I met with some 13 states and organizations to try to marshal greater support for our initiatives in Somalia, and we have followed up in Washington with a meeting of the same groups to try to increase support for any AMISOM effort.
We also outlined yesterday in a statement made by Deputy Steinberg what, in fact, is a two-track policy. We will pursue one track, which is the familiar track of supporting the Djibouti peace process, the TFG, and the government of Sheik Sharif, trying to help it become more effective, to make it more inclusive, and to give it the ability to provide services to its people. And we will also continue to work to strengthen AMISOM. That is the first track. That’s the track that most people are familiar with.
But we will also be pursuing a second track, which we think is also increasingly important, and that is we will work to engage more actively with the governments of Puntland and Somaliland. We hope to be able to have more American diplomats and aid workers going into those countries on an ad hoc basis to meet with government officials to see how we can help them improve their capacity to provide services to their people, seeing whether there are development assistance projects that we can work with them on. We think that both of these parts of Somalia have been zones of relative political and civil stability, and we think they will, in fact, be a bulwark against extremism and radicalism that might emerge from the south.
Equally as a part of the second-track strategy, we are going to reach out to groups in south central Somalia, groups in local governments, clans, and sub-clans that are opposed to Al-Shabaab, the radical extremist group in the south, but are not allied formally or directly with the TFG. And we will look for opportunities to work with these groups to see if we can identify them, find ways of supporting their development initiatives and activities.
Let me stop right there and probably take your questions, which are probably more central to your thinking than what I’m saying to you.
QUESTION: Well, actually, what you said about Somaliland and Puntland, at one point you referred to them as countries. Are you contemplating some kind of a diplomatic recognition?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: No, we are not. We believe that we should follow the African Union position on this. We still recognized only a single Somali state. This is the position of the Africa Union, which is the most important and largest continental regional body. We do not contemplate and we are not about to recognize either of these entities or areas as independent states.
QUESTION: So what does the greater engagement –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: The greater engagement can be defined as meeting on a periodic basis with government officials from these two political entities, talking to them about development issues, including a range of health, education, agriculture, water projects that they might want to develop, looking for ways to strengthen their capacity both to govern and to deliver services to their people. In the past, we have not engaged these areas and political entities aggressively. We will now start to do so.
QUESTION: Is that decision – I mean, how does that decision reflect on your assessment of the TFG’s ability to have them get up and running? It sounds like you’re getting sort of a couple of backups ready because you don’t think the TFG is really going to pull it together.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: We will continue to pursue the first track because it is an important track. The TFG is the recognized political government of Somalia. It is recognized by IGAD, which is the subregional organization. It’s recognized by the AU and it’s recognized by the UN. Sheik Sharif and the TFG government senior representatives are here participating in the UNGA.
The TFG faces enormous challenges because governing Somalia has been an enormous challenge over the last two decades. It faces a security challenge from a radical extremist group called Al-Shabaab. It faces the challenges of living in a very harsh climate in which rainfall is frequently unpredictable. It is a challenge because of its location, its history, and its environment.
We will continue to work with the TFG and its leadership, and we will work with other moderate forces and elements in the south who share many of the same values and principles of the TFG even though they may not be directly allied with it.
QUESTION: I mean, do you anticipate setting up some kind of permanent offices in Somaliland, Puntland, or Hargeisa, or wherever?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: No, we do not anticipate setting up any new diplomatic facilities in all of those – in any of those areas. But I must say that we were very pleased with the announcement yesterday at the meeting on Somalia that the UN is going to begin to staff on a regular basis its offices in Mogadishu. We think that’s a positive development to have UN staff there (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Somaliland or Puntland in terms of specific projects, money that –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: No, but we did have both embassy and AID officers in Hargeisa approximately four weeks ago. They had some very useful and exploratory meetings with the government there. We hope that we will be able to have, on a regular basis, opportunities to exchange views with government officials and to look for areas where we can provide development assistance and to help them stabilize and improve the economic and social conditions in their country.
QUESTION: Okay. Just to – this is run out of Nairobi?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: This is run out of Nairobi. Our operations for Somalia, all of Somalia, are based in Nairobi.
QUESTION: One more about AMISOM. The Ugandans were quoted again and the military chief of staff was quoted recently as saying that they’re ready to send up to 10,000 additional troops but they’re awaiting U.S. funding to get that going. Given the troop deficit you’ve frequently mentioned, is the U.S. to fund this? Is that a plan, and when is that money going to happen?
And secondly, on AMISOM, there’s a discussion about whether or not they should – the forces there should be going on a more – taking a more aggressive stance and actually going after the rebels. What’s the U.S. position on that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: First of all, the U.S. Government has been one of the largest supporters of the AMISOM peacekeeping effort. We support the AMISOM peacekeeping effort because it grows out of an African desire to support the Djibouti process, the TFG, and the current TFG leadership. We also endorse and support the efforts of the IGAD and the AU to expand the number of AMISOM peacekeepers. The United States will continue to make contributions to the AMISOM force based on our ability to win the appropriate congressional support for funding of that operation. We will not take responsibility for paying for all of the additional troops that go in there. We think that obligation should be shared broadly by the international community. As I said earlier, we believe that the problem in Somalia is both a regional and a global problem and, in fact, should be shared globally.
Let me just point out again the fact that over the last three years, we have seen an enormous upsurge in the hijacking of ships passing through the Red Sea and the upper northwestern corner of the Indian Ocean. When that happens, it has an impact not just on the states in the region, but it has an impact on the global community as a whole.
Yesterday afternoon, I had a conversation with my counterpart in the Japanese Government, and we talked about how the situation in Somalia directly impacts Japan. Any products that are moving from Japan or from Asia to Europe, or vice versa, from Europe, Germany or England and the Netherlands around to Asia, comes out and around through the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal, down to the Red Sea, and around.
When ships are subject to hijacking, it has three or four negative global impacts. First, it raises substantially the cost of international insurance. Second, it can, if the countries believe it too dangerous to go through the Suez Canal and down to the Red Sea, extend the journey, the movement of products from Europe to Asia, or Asia to Europe, by as much as a week after they go around the Cape of Good Hope. And thirdly, it increases the cost of not only insurance and potentially time, but it also costs those countries that are contributing naval forces to prevent piracy – it costs them enormous amounts to fund the naval operations out here. So the impact is global.
We are encouraging countries not only in Europe and Africa, but the Middle East and Asia, to recognize the negative impact that Somalia has on the global community as much as it has on Africa. African countries take a disproportionate burden for handling of the Somali pirates.
I also would point out that the – still the second largest source of income for a country like Egypt is the use of the Suez Canal. When traffic is diverted because of problems in the Red Sea, it costs them money as well. So it’s a major problem, not just a problem for Africa.
MODERATOR: This has to be the last one, because I’m getting the staff scared that Johnnie is paying for our lunch.
QUESTION: In the context of your meeting with your Japanese counterpart, did you discuss any possible joint projects or new solutions to this problem?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I certainly encouraged the Japanese Government to think about financial contributions to help defer the cost of countries in the region to handling pirates. States like Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, the Seychelles incur an enormous amount when they take pirates, have to prosecute them and jail them. Assisting them financially in doing that was one of the issues I discussed.
I also encouraged them to think about making monetary contributions that can be used and directed towards AMISOM and directed towards supporting the TFG in its ability to deliver services. I also asked them to think about and consider providing the military equipment that could be used by AMISOM. This is something that we are encouraging a number of states in Europe, the Middle East, and in Asia to look at. It’s important that countries in – who are part of the Arab League participate in this as well. We’ve seen the hijacking of some supertankers from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia could be of great assistance in this. It is a close neighbor to Somalia and it is impacted by what happens in Somalia. They too could make substantial financial and material contributions to this.
So when President Museveni says Africa and Uganda are prepared to put in troops, that’s their part of this international contribution. It is important that European, Middle Eastern, and Asian states find a way to make a contribution as well through material support or through monetary support. That’s what I think President Museveni was saying, and it’s a point that we believe is important to stress as well. Africans are prepared to play their role; it’s important for others to do so as well.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
QUESTION: P.J., what’s the latest on the settlements?
MR. CROWLEY: I have nothing to add to what I said last night. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Okay, take care.
MR. CROWLEY: Thanks, Johnnie.
QUESTION: P.J., EAP in Washington is telling us to ask you for any statement on the release of the Chinese captain by the Japanese. They keep deferring us back up here to you. They say, “P.J. will have something to say on it.”
MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we had stated yesterday, we were concerned that this was an issue that had the potential to escalate. I think Jeff Bader yesterday talked about the strong nationalist fervor that had been generated both on the Chinese side and the Japanese side, so we are gratified that the situation has been resolved. It was something that the Japanese Government assured us that would be done within accordance of their legal process and international law. This was a Japanese decision to make, and we’re just hopeful that with the release of the ship captain, tensions will recede and the countries in the region will get back to normal business.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Just one Japanese question. Is this – I mean, maybe that Prime Minister Kan’s – his new cabinet is criticized by the other side, opposite side of the party – I mean the – this compromise means that Japan lost diplomatic – diplomatically with the Chinese – I mean this kind of chicken game, people (inaudible) chicken game. Don’t you think that this kind of criticizing (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, as we – we think this is a proper outcome. And we had discussed this with the Japanese. It came up, as we said, in the meeting that the Secretary had with Foreign Minister Maehara yesterday. We had some low-level – lower-level conversations with the Chinese as well, and we sensed that there was a desire on both sides to resolve this soon. We think this is the right decision. It’s how mature states resolve these things through diplomacy . And we think this is in the interest of the two countries and the interest of the region. Obviously, there are some underlying issues that have been triggered by this episode. The United States continues to support freedom of navigation in the region, and we will continue to emphasize that. Obviously, we have an important meeting that’ll be going on today involving the ASEAN countries and you’ll be seeing a communiqué that comes out of that meeting.
QUESTION: Regarding to the Clinton and Maehara discussion, was there any indication from the Japanese side of this possibility to release him?
MR. CROWLEY: This is a decision for – that Japan has made, and I’ll defer to the Japanese Government to explain its reasoning. But obviously, we believe that this will significantly reduce the existing tension. We think it was a proper decision for Japan to make.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
 an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 move out every month from that country into Kenya
Chairman Payne, Ranking Member Smith, and Members of the Committee:
I welcome the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss our policy in sub-Saharan Africa. As you know this is my first appearance before this committee, and I salute your commitment to Africa as well as your efforts to examine tough issues. I look forward to working with the Congress and especially with this committee to identify appropriate tools to assist our on-going efforts.
President Obama has a strong interest in Africa and has made the continent one of our top foreign policy concerns. This has been evident throughout his first year in office. The President’s visit to Ghana last July, the earliest visit made by a U.S. president to the continent, underscores Africa’s importance to the United States. Last September, at the U.N. General Assembly, the President hosted a lunch with 26 African heads of state. He also met in the Oval Office with President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Khama of Botswana, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe. And the President invited dozens of people to the White House to see him give the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for Political Courage to a leading women’s organization from Zimbabwe.
All of the President’s senior foreign policy advisors followed his lead—many of them traveling to Africa as well. The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations visited five African countries last June, including Liberia and Rwanda. Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew traveled to Ethiopia and Tanzania in June 2009.
Last August, Secretary Clinton and I embarked on an 11-day, seven-country trip across the continent. In January, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero headed the U.S. delegation to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, where we discussed a range of issues including democracy and governance, climate change, and food security. Under Secretary Otero also visited Kenya and Uganda.
From Ethiopia, I traveled to Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria where I met with senior government officials and members of civil society. We discussed the need for free, fair, and transparent elections. We also talked about other issues such as regional stability, economic development, and the responsible use of resource revenues. I stressed the need for governments, particularly those that have discovered large quantities of oil like Ghana and Uganda, to use their new found wealth responsibly.
President Obama has said repeatedly that the United States views Africa as our partner and as a partner of the international community. While Africa has very serious and well-known challenges to confront, the President, Secretary Clinton, and I are confident that Africa and Africans will rise to meet and overcome these challenges.
Last June when the President was in Ghana, he said, “We believe in Africa’s potential and promise. We remain committed to Africa’s future. We will be strong partners with the African people.” Africa is essential to our interconnected world, and our alliance with one another must be rooted in mutual respect and accountability. I echo the President’s sentiment that U.S. policy must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.
The Obama Administration is committed to a positive and forward-looking policy in Africa, but we know that additional assistance will not automatically produce success across the continent. Instead, success will be defined by how well we work together as partners to build Africa’s capacity for long-term change and ultimately eliminate the continued need for such assistance. As Africa’s partner, the United States is ready to contribute to Africa’s growth and stabilization, but ultimately, African leaders and countries must take control of their futures.
Just like the United States is important to Africa, Africa is important to the United States. The history and heritage of this country is directly linked to Africa. But the significance and relevance of Africa reaches far beyond ethnicity and national origin. It is based on our fundamental interests in promoting democratic institutions and good governance, peace and stability, and sustained economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa. All of these interests affect the United States. The United States will focus on these areas and others that are critical to the future success of Africa.
STRENGTHENING DEMOCRATIC INSITUTIONS
We will work 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. A key element in Africa’s transformation is sustained commitment to democracy, rule of law, and constitutional norms. Africa has made significant progress in this area. Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, and South Africa are a few examples of countries showing that commitment. But progress in this area must be more widespread across Africa.
Some scholars and political analysts are saying that democracy in Africa has reached a plateau, and that we may be witnessing the beginning of a democratic recession. They point to flawed presidential elections in places like Kenya, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe; the attempts by leaders in Niger, Uganda, and Cameroon to extend their terms of office; and the re-emergence of military interventionism in Guinea, Madagascar, and Niger.
Moreover, democracy remains fragile or tenuous in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and arguably Africa’s most important country, Nigeria, which continues to experience political tensions caused by the prolonged illness of President Yar’Adua.
The United States welcomes President Yar’Adua’s recent return to Nigeria. However, we remain concerned that there may be some in Nigeria who are putting their personal ambitions above the health of the President and more importantly ahead of the political stability and political health of the country.
Nigeria is simply too important to Africa and too important to the United States and the international community for us not to be concerned and engaged. Widespread instability in Nigeria could have a tsunami-like ripple effect across West Africa and the global community.
During my recent visit to Nigeria, I was encouraged by the steps taken by Nigeria’s elected officials at the national and state level to elevate Goodluck Jonathan to Acting President. Although political progress has been made, Nigeria still faces significant political challenges and uncertainty in the run-up to the next presidential and national assembly elections in 2011.
It is important that Nigeria improve its electoral system reinvigorate its economy and resolve the conflicts in the Niger Delta and end communal violence and impunity in Plateau State. It is also critically important that all of Nigeria’s leaders act responsibly and reaffirm their commitment to good governances, stability and democracy by choosing constitutional rule.
Our engagement in Guinea following the September 28 massacre continues to yield tangible results. Working with international and regional partners we insured that junta leader Dadis Camara would not return to Conakry from Morocco, where he sought medical attention after an assassination attempt. He is now in Ouagadougou. Our calls for, and support of, a transitional government and clear path to elections were effective – we are moving in the right direction and elections are scheduled June 27.
Nigeria, Guinea and other African countries need civilian governments that deliver services to their people, independent judiciaries that respect and enforce the rule of law, professional security forces that respect human rights, strong and effective legislative institutions, a free and responsible press, and a dynamic civil society. This is not a list of options or some menu from which governments and leaders may pick and choose to suit their own ambitions. There has been far too much of that behavior in the past. Rather, all of these rights are requirements for a stable and prosperous Africa that will help ensure a brighter future for the African people.
The political and economic success of Africa depends a great deal on the effectiveness, sustainability, and reliability of its democratic institutions. That means a focus on process and progress, not on personalities. African leaders must recognize that the United States is engaging and building long-term ties with their countries and not just with them. Credible, strong, and independent institutions are the key to this deeper relationship. Over the next two years, 27 countries in sub-Saharan Africa will hold elections. We encourage those governments to get it right. To level the playing field, clean up the voter rolls, open up the media, count the votes fairly, and give democracy a chance.
Although elections are but one component in the process of democratization, there is a strong correlation between electoral processes, including strong and independent electoral institutions, successful elections, and efforts to consolidate democracy. And there is strong evidence that suggests that democratic governments perform better economically.
To stay abreast of developments in these important contests I’ve instituted a monthly meeting with NGO’s to discuss upcoming elections, including sharing experiences and best practices, and ensuring that scarce resources are equitably spread throughout the continent.
In Kenya, for example, which is scheduled to hold elections in 2012, we have redoubled our efforts to strengthen democracy and governance in the wake of 2007-2008 post-election violence. Our multi-year investment in strengthening Parliament continues to show strong results: as a result of U.S. institutional capacity building and material support, Parliamentary business is now broadcast live across the country to an eager and interested audience. We also co-hosted, in conjunction with the strong assistance of the House Democracy Partnership, Members of Parliament in order that they benefit from the experience of their peers here on Capitol Hill. As part of our efforts to empower independent voices in Kenya, we sponsored the National Youth Forum, which brought together leaders from all youth-oriented civil society groups to work jointly on democracy and reform initiatives. On the other hand, the Secretary warned that there will be “no business as usual” with those who impede democratic progress. This is not an idle threat as we already revoked the visas of selected high-ranking government officials and sent warning letters to others.
We will continue to work with, support, and recognize Africans who support democracy and respect for human rights. This includes working with governments, local NGOs, and international actors to highlight concerns such as security force abuses, infringements on civil liberties, prison conditions, corruption, and discrimination against persons due to their sexual orientation.
This month, the First Lady and the Secretary presented the 2010 International Women of Courage Award to Jestina Mukoko of the Zimbabwe Peace Project and Ann Njogu of the Kenya Center for Rights Education and Awareness. The courage these women exhibited in confronting injustice in their countries is an inspiration to all of us.
The United States will continue to work with Africans, as partners, to build stronger democratic institutions and to advance democracy in Africa. It is in that context of partnership, that I am encouraged by the growing political maturity of the African Union. At the most recent African Union summit in Addis Ababa, the assembled heads of state and government adopted important new measures to strengthen the continent’s democratic institutions and make clear that it would not be a club for strongmen and coup leaders. I applaud African leaders for approving new rules and procedures that bind the A.U. to reject “constitutional coups” by leaders who seek to illegitimately extend their terms in office.
PROMOTING ECONOMIC GROWTH, DEVELOPMENT AND REFORM
Africa’s future success and global importance are dependent on its continued economic progress. Working alongside African countries to promote and advance sustained economic development and growth is another Obama Administration priority. Africa has made measurable inroads to increase prosperity. Mauritius, Ghana, Rwanda, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, and Cape Verde have made significant economic strides. Yet Africa remains the poorest and most vulnerable continent on the globe.
To help turn this situation around, we must work to revitalize Africa’s agricultural sector, which employs more than 70 percent of Africans directly or indirectly.
The United States is committed to supporting a new Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, which builds upon the model of the African-led Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) to partner with countries and other development partners to reduce hunger, poverty and undernourishment. The President’s commitment of at least $3.5 billion over three years to agricultural development will help us work with African farmers to employ new agricultural methods and technologies, and help them deliver their production to markets. The initiative was developed to help enhance Africa’s ability to meet its food needs through improved production, markets, and distribution systems. It will also enable African states to further develop their agricultural industries, and spur economic growth across the continent. We conducted multiple briefing sessions with the African diplomatic corps on the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative before it was officially released. This garnered continent-wide support, as well as important input, on further development of the plan.
In addition to the Food Security Initiative we are funding smaller projects that will provide employment and income, especially in the agricultural sector. For example, in Zimbabwe we are implementing a program that promotes agricultural livelihoods through activities that stimulate agricultural production, restore the agricultural value chain and build market linkages. We are also implementing a revolving loan guarantee program that helps small landholders obtain agricultural inputs and training.
I was encouraged by the election of President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi as the next chair of the African Union. Malawi has made great progress in the field of agriculture and the President indicated that he plans to use his chairmanship of the A.U. to advance agriculture in Africa. Countries that are food secure are stronger, more stable, and better able to weather economic downturns.
The United States also wants to strengthen its trading relationship with Africa. We already have strong ties in energy, textiles, and transportation equipment. But we can and should do more. The Obama Administration is committed to working with our African partners to maximize the opportunities created by our trade preference programs such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). And we hope more African nations will take advantage of AGOA.
We also continue to explore ways to promote African private sector growth and investment, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. The AF Bureau established an economic growth working group in 2009 that meets regularly with economic and commercial counselors from the Washington-based African diplomatic corps to bring together U.S. Government agencies and businesses and to create business and economic links. This group will try to leverage the opportunities under AGOA as well as work to expand trade and investment throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
The President’s Entrepreneurship Summit, scheduled for April 26-27, will highlight the important role entrepreneurship can play in economic growth and community development. It will include 24 African businesspeople, including nine women. In advance of the Summit, our embassies are holding roundtables with private sector and non-government stakeholders to explore new programs and partnerships that can continue long after the Washington event.
In the midst of these efforts, we cannot forget the critical role African women play as producers and agricultural traders – they must take part in this economic growth. We must ensure that African women are an equal part of Africa’s economic future and success.
IMPROVING HEALTH, COMBATTING HIV/AIDS AND OTHER PANDEMICS
Historically the United States has focused on public health in Africa. We are committed to not only continuing, but increasing, that focus. From HIV/AIDS to malaria, Africans endure and suffer a multitude of health pandemics that weaken countries on many fronts. In addition, weak health systems mean that many Africans cannot easily access the care they need, due to transportation, stock outs of commodities, or the lack of trained health professionals, especially in rural areas. Women and children continue to become sick and die from easily preventable conditions. Desperately sick men and women cannot work and contribute to the economy, or provide for their families. They cannot serve in the armed forces or police and they cannot provide for the security of their countries.
The Obama Administration has pledged $63 billion over six years to meet public health challenges throughout the world under the Global Health Initiative, or GHI. GHI will have a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns and children through programs including infectious disease, nutrition, maternal and child health, and safe water. Since GHI aims to maximize the sustainable health impact the United States achieves for every dollar invested, we will work in partnership with African governments and civil society, supporting their efforts to ensure that high-quality treatment, prevention, and care are accessible to communities throughout Africa. We will also engage in dialogue with partner countries, multilateral organizations, and other donors to ensure that there is a shared global response to global health needs.
Under the Initiative we will partner with Africans to invest in public health systems, including training more medical professionals and ensuring that there are good jobs in their own countries once they are trained. We will also support partner countries in focusing on maternal, neonatal, and pediatric health care, which are closely related to several Millennium Development Goals.
By linking our existing health programs, the Global Health Initiative will strengthen and leverage our existing disease-specific programs such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), enabling us to respond in a coordinated way to the needs of African populations.
We are also working with governments on other projects that will improve the health of Africans. For example, we are working with the Government of Malawi and civil society to support the distribution of supplies for point-of-use water disinfection, hygiene promotion and proper storage. We are also helping the government to spread the message on the need for good hygiene practices like hand washing with soap, protecting wells to improve water quality, and maintaining boreholes in communities to improve access to safe water.
PREVENTING AND RESOLVING CONFLICTS
The United States is committed to working with African states and the international communities to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts and disputes. Conflict destabilizes states and borders, stifles economic growth and investment, and robs young Africans of the opportunity for an education and a better life. Conflict can set back a nation for a generation. Throughout Africa, there has been a notable reduction in the number of conflicts over the past decade.
The brutal conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia are over, and Liberia transformed itself into a democracy through the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state. These examples of what can be accomplished in a short period of time should make us proud and hopeful for solving the problems of seemingly intractable conflicts elsewhere. The United States provided $168 million to assist the military and police to strengthen the state’s capacity to secure its territory and promote the rule of law.
However, areas of turmoil and political unrest in countries such as Guinea, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Madagascar create both internal and regional instability. Furthermore, we must not forget the extreme harm inflicted by gender-based violence and the recruitment of child soldiers. The Obama Administration is working to end these conflicts so that peace and economic progress can replace instability and uncertainty.
President Obama demonstrated his commitment to work with African leaders to help resolve these conflicts through the appointment of the Special Presidential Envoy for Sudan, General Scott Gration, whose mandate is to ensure the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Special Advisor for the Great Lakes, former Congressman Howard Wolpe, is also working to address the root cause of conflict and to bring peace and stability to the Eastern Congo. Sustained U.S. diplomatic engagement in the Great Lakes already contributes to better relations between Rwanda and the DRC, a jump-start to security sector reform in the DRC, and greater stability in Burundi as it enters its second phase of elections. The Administration is also seeking to ameliorate the worst impacts of gender-based violence through USAID, State, and DoD programs to address prevention and treatment, the need to bring perpetrators to justice, and to support public advocacy efforts.
We will also continue our cooperation with regional leaders to look for ways to end Somalia’s protracted political and humanitarian crisis. We continue to call for well-meaning actors in the region to support the Djibouti Peace Process of inclusion and reconciliation, and to reject those extremists and their supporters that seek to exploit the suffering of the Somali people and impose an alien ideology of intolerance on the country.
Additionally, the United States is proactive in working with African leaders, civil society organizations, and the international community to prevent new conflicts. We are cooperating with African leaders to defuse possible disagreements before they become sources of open hostility.
The Bureau takes advantage of 1207 funding from the Department of Defense to further support peace-building requirements. In northern Uganda, USAID and 1207 funding are supporting Uganda in its post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction in the north of the country, which was previously the location of major human rights violations and humanitarian need because of the actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
We provide a full menu of programs to build African capacity to manage conflict, including support for the African Peace and Security Architecture. USAID provides funding for the ECOWAS early warning system. The United States also supports the Africa Standby Force at the continental (AU), subregional, and member states level with equipment, training and advisory support.
As we pursue these avenues of promoting stability and peace in Somalia, we are also shouldering the lion’s share of humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia. The United States consistently is the largest single country donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, providing more than $151 million in humanitarian assistance in 2009. In the past three years, the U.S. has been the lead contributor to the A.U. Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) with over $185 million in training, logistics, and equipment. AMISOM successfully enabled the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to withstand the efforts by terrorist group al-Shabaab to take control of South Central Somalia.
We are also working to train African peacekeepers to take the lead in ensuring peace and security on their continent. The Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) Program is a State Department, Bureau of African Affairs program with the mission of enhancing the capacity of African partner nations to participate in multinational peacekeeping operations in Africa. ACOTA trains and equips African peacekeepers and enables African partner nations to be self-sufficient in the long term by training African peacekeeping trainers and helping to develop peacekeeping training facilities. ACOTA’s programs of instruction fully comply with United Nations standards. In addition to soldier and staff peacekeeping tasks, the training includes HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, human rights, and the prevention of gender-based violence, child exploitation, and trafficking-in-persons. ACOTA now has 25 African partner nations and since 2005 has trained more than 107,000 African peacekeepers of whom over 90 percent have deployed to United Nations and African Union peacekeeping operations. The objective of training 75,000 for peacekeeping in Africa was accomplished one year ahead of schedule and today African peacekeepers represent over 30 percent of global peacekeepers.
WORKING TO RESOLVE TRANSNATIONAL CHALLENGES
We also seek to deepen our cooperation with African states to address both old and new transnational challenges. The 21st century ushered in new transnational challenges for Africa and the world. Africa’s poverty puts it at a distinct disadvantage in dealing with major global and transnational problems such as climate change, narco-trafficking, trafficking-in-persons and arms, and the illegal exploitation of Africa’s minerals and maritime resources.
Meeting the climate and clean energy challenge is a top priority for the United States and the Obama Administration. Climate change affects the entire globe. Its potential impact on water supplies and food security can be disastrous. As President Obama said in Ghana, “while Africa gives off less greenhouse gasses than any other part of the world, it will be the most threatened by climate change.” Often those who contributed the least to the problem are the ones who are affected the most by it, and the United States is committed to working with Africans to find viable solutions to adapt to the severe consequences of climate change. We are making concerted efforts to persuade African countries to sign on to the Copenhagen Accord. Our ambassadors have raised the issue at the highest levels with host governments. Additionally, Climate Envoy Todd Stern and I called in the African Diplomatic Corps to urge association with the Copenhagen Accord. These efforts resulted in more African associations with the accord.
Narco-trafficking is a major challenge for Africa and the world. If we do not address it, African countries will be vulnerable to the destabilizing force of narcotics trafficking in the years ahead. As Africa faces the impact of these new transnational problems, the United States will actively work with leaders and governments across the continent to confront all issues that are global in nature.
STRATEGIC DIALOUGE WITH ANGOLA, NIGERIA AND SOUTH AFRICA
I would now like to turn to our new programs and initiatives, which work to implement our policies to move our partnership with Africa forward. We are establishing in-depth, high level dialogues with South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, and the African Union. We are increasing our cooperation with other countries interested in Africa such as Canada, the U.K., France, China, Japan, and multilateral bodies such as the E.U.
We also hope that increased funding for projects and programs in Africa, as requested in the 2011 budget, will be approved by Congress. With enhanced resources we can further strengthen our partnership with Africa.
NEED FOR GREATER DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE
Finally, one of my personal goals is to expand our diplomatic presence in Africa. I am working with the Administration and Congress to increase resources – both funding and people – at our embassies and consulates. I want more American diplomats living and working in Africa. An increased diplomatic presence is important for our mutual progress on all of these pressing issues. It is my sincere desire to open more consulates in Africa, which will enable us to reach citizens beyond the capital cities. We must be in Mombasa as well as Nairobi, we must be in Goma as well as Kinshasa, and must be in Kano as well as Abuja.
In furthering of our goal to expand our reach on the continent, the Bureau of African Affairs is working with the Department to deploy 74 new “Diplomacy 3.0” entry-level Foreign Service positions to overseas posts in the coming months. Approximately 26 of these new officers will work on democracy and good governance and 24 will focus on issues related to economic development. Many will cover transnational issue portfolios as well. The Bureau is also working, on a priority basis, to address the logistical, staffing, funding, and approval requirements to establish a facility in Kano, Nigeria, my top priority for expanding U.S. diplomatic presence in Africa.
At the same time, we are keeping pace with Africa’s technological developments to provide information about the United States via SMS text messaging and internet-enabled mobile technology. Our embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, for example, began a mobile messaging service that can handle up to 10,000 mobile phone subscribers, offering educational advising alerts, invitations to the latest U.S. embassy cultural programming and updates for English instructors.
AMERICAN CENTERS CAN PROVIDE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OUTREACH
To extend outreach to new audiences, especially young people, we are actively pursuing funds to renovate five free-standing American centers throughout Africa. Instead of requiring African citizens to come through elaborate security procedures in order to meet with us in our embassies, we are taking our resources and employees to more accessible spaces.
We must also do a better job of using our diplomatic presence on the continent to listen to the people of Africa and learn from them how we can better work together on the challenges they face.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Thank you all for your kind invitation to come and speak at The Africa Society’s Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series. I would like to thank the sponsors of tonight’s event: MARS Incorporated, the Africa Society, and the Embassy of Ghana. Ambassador Agyekum, thank you for that thoughtful introduction, and congratulations to you on the presentation of your credentials to President Obama yesterday. I hope you will enjoy your tour of duty in Washington, and I look forward to working with you over the next several years. I also want to thank Bernadette Paolo, the President of the Africa Society, and the many other members who are here, including Chairman Noah Samara.
I also wish to extend warm greetings to the other distinguished members of the African diplomatic corps here this evening, as well as the members of the press, academia, NGOs, and others interested in Africa. Thank you all for being here this evening.
It is a real pleasure for me to join you today to talk about a topic that I have devoted much of my professional life to – strengthening the United States relationship with Africa.
As many of you know, I have spent much of my career working in and on Africa, from volunteering for the Peace Corps in Tanzania to holding the position of U.S. Ambassador in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. I am honored to be serving as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in this administration.
President Obama has a strong interest in Africa and has prioritized Africa among our top foreign policy concerns. This has been evident throughout his first year in office.
The President’s visit to Ghana last July, the earliest visit made by a U.S. president to the continent, underscores Africa’s importance to the U.S. Last September, at the U.N. General Assembly, the President hosted a lunch with 26 African heads of state. He has also met in the Oval Office with President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Khama of Botswana, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai. And the President invited dozens of people to the White House to see him give a Zimbabwean women’s group the Robert H. Kennedy Prize for Political Courage.
All of the President’s senior foreign policy advisors have followed his lead—many of them traveling to Africa as well.
The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations — my former boss and close colleague 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.
Last August, Secretary Clinton and I embarked on an 11-day, seven-country trip across the continent. And last month Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero headed the U.S. delegation to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, where we discussed a range of issues including democracy and governance, climate change, and food security.
From Ethiopia, I traveled to Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria where I met with senior government officials and members of civil society. We discussed the need for free, fair, and transparent elections. We also talked about other issues such as regional stability, economic development, and responsible use of resource revenues. I stressed the need for governments, particularly those that have discovered large quantities of oil like Ghana and Uganda, to use their new found wealth responsibly.
How these governments manage these resources and the money they receive from them will have a major impact on future political and economic development in those countries.
President Obama has said repeatedly that the United States views Africa as our partner and as a partner of the international community. While Africa has very serious and well-known challenges to confront, the President and Secretary Clinton are confident that Africa and Africans will rise to meet and overcome these challenges.
Last June when the President was in Ghana, he said, “We believe in Africa’s potential and promise. We remain committed to Africa’s future. We will be strong partners with the African people.” Africa is essential to our interconnected world, and our alliance with one another must be rooted in mutual respect and accountability.
I echo the President’s sentiment that U.S. policy must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.
The Obama Administration is committed to a positive and forward-looking policy in Africa.
It is committed to substantial increases in foreign assistance for Africa, but we know that additional assistance will not automatically produce success across the continent. Instead, success will be defined by how well we work together as partners to build Africa’s capacity for long-term change and ultimately the elimination of the continued need for such assistance. As Africa’s partner, the United States is ready to contribute to Africa’s growth and stabilization, but ultimately, African leaders and countries must take control of their futures.
Just like the United States is important to Africa, Africa is important to the United States. The history and heritage of this country is directly linked to Africa; President Obama’s direct family ties to the continent are a testimony to this.
But the significance and relevance of Africa reaches far beyond ethnicity and national origin. It is based on our fundamental interests in promoting democratic institutions and good governance, peace and stability, and sustained economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa. All of these interests affect the United States. The U.S. will focus on these areas and others that are critical to the future success of Africa.
We will work 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.
A key element in Africa’s transformation is sustained commitment to democracy, rule of law, and constitutional norms. Africa has made significant progress in this area. Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, and South Africa are a few examples of countries showing that commitment. But progress in this area must be more widespread across Africa.
Some scholars and political analysts are saying that democracy in Africa has reached a plateau, and that we may be witnessing the beginning of a democratic recession. They point to flawed presidential elections in places like Kenya, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe; the attempts by leaders in Niger, Uganda, and Cameroon to extend their terms of office; and the re-emergence of military interventionism in Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar, and just last week in Niger.
Moreover, democracy remains fragile or tenuous in large states like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and arguably Africa’s most important country, Nigeria.
Nigeria continues to experience political tensions caused by the prolonged illness of President Yar’Adua. The United States welcomes President Yar’Adua’s recent return to Nigeria. However, we remain concerned that there may be some in Nigeria who are putting their personal ambitions above the health of the President and more importantly ahead of the political stability and political health of the country.
Nigeria is simply too important to Africa and too important to the U.S. and the international community for us not to be concerned and engaged. Widespread instability in Nigeria could have a tsunami-like ripple effect across West Africa and the global community.
During my recent visit to Nigeria, I was encouraged by the steps Nigeria’s elected officials at the national and state level had taken to elevate Goodluck Jonathan to Acting President. But today Nigeria may be marching towards a crossroads and it is critically important that all of Nigeria’s leaders act responsibly, that they stay on the democratic road, and that they choose constitutional rule over the uncertain path of conflict.
Nigeria and other African countries need civilian governments that deliver services to their people, independent judiciaries that respect and enforce the rule of law, professional security forces that respect human rights, strong and effective legislative institutions, a free and responsible press, and a dynamic civil society. All of these things are needed for a stable and prosperous Africa. All of these things are needed to secure Africa’s future.
The political and economic success of Africa depends a great deal on the effectiveness, sustainability, and reliability of its democratic institutions. Over the next two years, 27 countries in sub-Saharan Africa will hold elections. We encourage those governments to get it right. To level the playing field, clean up the voter rolls, open up the media, count the votes fairly, and give democracy a chance.
Although elections are but one component in the process of democratization, there is a strong correlation between electoral processes, including strong and independent electoral institutions, successful elections, and efforts to consolidate democracy. And there is strong evidence that suggests that democratic governments perform better economically.
The U.S. will continue to work with Africans, as partners, to build stronger democratic institutions and to advance democracy in Africa. It is a major priority.
Africa’s future success and global importance are dependent on its continued economic progress. Working alongside African countries to promote and advance sustained economic development and growth is another Obama Administration priority. Africa has made measurable inroads to increase prosperity. Countries like Mauritius, Ghana, Rwanda, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, and Cape Verde have made significant economic strides. Yet Africa remains the poorest and most vulnerable continent on the globe.
To help turn this situation around, we must work to revitalize Africa’s agricultural sector, which employs more than 70 percent of Africans directly or indirectly.
The U.S. is committed to supporting a new Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, focusing predominantly on reducing hunger, poverty and undernourishment.
This $3.5 billion Food Security Initiative will also supply new methods and technologies to African farmers. The initiative was developed to help enhance Africa’s ability to meet its food needs and reduce its reliance on imported food commodities. It will also enable African states to further develop their agricultural industries, and by doing so it can spur economic growth across the continent.
Now is the time for a Green Revolution in African agriculture. Through innovative approaches and nontraditional technology, we can improve the lives of millions of people across the continent.
I was encouraged by Malawi’s election as the next chair of the African Union.
Malawi has made great progress in the field of agriculture and has indicated that it plans to use its chairmanship of the A.U. to advance agriculture in Africa. Countries that can feed themselves are stronger, more stable, and better able to weather economic downturns.
The U.S. also wants to strengthen its trading relationship with Africa. We already have strong ties in energy, textiles, and transportation equipment. But we can and should do more. The Obama Administration is committed to working with our African partners to maximize the opportunities created by our trade preference programs like AGOA. And we hope more African nations will take advantage of AGOA.
We also continue to explore ways to promote African private sector growth and investment, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
In the midst of these efforts, we cannot forget the critical role African women play as producers and agricultural traders – they must take part in this economic growth. We must ensure that African women are an equal part of Africa’s economic future and success.
Historically the United States has focused on public health and health-related issues in Africa. We are committed to continuing that focus. We will work side-by-side with African governments and civil society to ensure that quality treatment, prevention, and care are easily accessible to communities throughout Africa.
From HIV/AIDS to malaria, Africans endure and suffer a multitude of health pandemics that weaken countries on many fronts.
Sick men and women cannot work and contribute to the economy. They cannot serve in the armed forces or police and they cannot provide for the security of their counties.
To help solve the health crisis that is occurring throughout the entire continent, Africans as well as the international community must invest in public health systems, in training more medical professionals, and must ensure that there are good jobs and well-paying opportunities in their own countries for doctors and nurses once they are trained. We must also focus on maternal and infant health care, which are closely related to several Millennium Development Goals.
The Obama Administration will continue the PEPFAR Program and the Bush Administration’s fight against HIV/AIDS. In addition to combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and polio, the Obama Administration has pledged $63 billion to meet public health challenges throughout Africa.
The U.S. is committed to working with African states and the international community to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflicts and disputes. Conflict destabilizes states and borders, stifles economic growth and investment, and robs young Africans of the opportunity for an education and a better life. Conflict sets back nations for a generation. Throughout Africa, there has been a notable reduction in the number of conflicts over the past decade.
The brutal conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia have come to an end, and we have seen Liberia transform itself into a democracy through the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state. These examples of what can be accomplished in a short period of time should make us proud and hopeful for solving the problems of seemingly intractable conflicts elsewhere.
However, areas of turmoil and political unrest such as Guinea, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Madagascar create both internal and regional instability. Furthermore, we must not forget the extreme harm inflicted by gender-based violence and the recruitment of child soldiers. The Obama Administration is working to end these conflicts so that peace and economic progress can replace instability and uncertainty.
President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to work with African leaders to help resolve these conflicts through the appointment of the Special Presidential Envoy for Sudan, General Scott Gration, whose mandate is to ensure the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Special Advisor for the Great Lakes former Congressman Howard Wolpe is also working to bring peace and stability to the Eastern Congo.
We will also continue our cooperation with regional leaders to look for ways to end Somalia’s protracted political and humanitarian crisis. We continue to call for well-meaning actors in the region to support the Djibouti Peace process of inclusion and reconciliation, and to reject those extremists and their supporters that seek to exploit the suffering of the Somali people.
Additionally, the United States is proactive in working with African leaders, civil society organizations, and the international community to prevent new conflicts. We are cooperating with African leaders to defuse possible disagreements before they become sources of open hostility. As we pursue these avenues of promoting stability and peace in Somalia, we are also shouldering the lion’s share of humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia.
The United States consistently has been the largest single country donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, providing more than $150 million in humanitarian assistance in 2009.
We will seek to deepen our cooperation with African states to address both old and new transnational challenges. The 21st century ushered in new transnational challenges for Africa and the world.
Africa’s poverty puts it at a distinct disadvantage in dealing with major global and transnational problems like climate change, narco-trafficking, trafficking in persons and arms, and the illegal exploitation of Africa’s minerals and maritime resources.
Meeting the climate and clean energy challenge is a top priority for the United States and the Obama Administration.
Climate change affects the entire globe; its potential impact on water supplies and food security can be disastrous. As President Obama said in Ghana, “while Africa gives off less greenhouse gasses than any other part of the world, it will be the most threatened by climate change.” Often those who have contributed the least to the problem are the ones who are affected the most by it, and the United States is committed to working with Africans to find viable solutions to adapt to the severe consequences of climate change.
The effects of climate change are clear: the snow cap of Mount Kilimanjaro is melting and Lake Chad is a fraction of the size it was 35 years ago. With our international partners, the United States is working to build a sustainable, clean energy global economy which can drive investment and job creation around the world, including bringing energy services to the African continent.
There is no time like the present to face this issue as it carries tremendous consequences for the future of our children, grandchildren and our planet.
Narco-trafficking is a major challenge for Africa and the world. If we do not address it, African countries will be vulnerable to the destabilizing force of narcotics trafficking in the years ahead. As Africa faces the impact of these new transnational problems, the United States will actively work with leaders and governments across the continent to confront all issues that are global in nature.
I would now like to turn to our new programs and initiatives, which work to implement our policies to move our partnership with Africa forward. We are establishing in-depth, high level dialogues with South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, and with the African Union.
We are increasing our cooperation with other countries interested in Africa such as Canada, the U.K., France, China, Japan, and multilateral bodies like the E.U.
We also hope that increased funding for projects and programs in Africa, as requested in the 2011 budget, will be approved by Congress. With enhanced resources we can further strengthen our partnership with Africa.
Finally, one of my personal goals is to expand our diplomatic presence in Africa. I am working with the Administration and Congress to increase resources – both funding and people – at our embassies and consulates. I want more American diplomats living and working in Africa. An increased diplomatic presence is important for our mutual progress on all of these pressing issues. It is my sincere desire to open more consulates in Africa, which will enable us to reach your citizens beyond the capital cities.
We must be in Mombasa as well as Nairobi, we must be in Goma as well as Kinshasa, and we will be in Kano as well as Abuja.
We must also do a better job of using our diplomatic presence on the continent to listen to the people of Africa and learn from them how we can better work together on the challenges they face.
The Obama Administration believes in and is committed to Africa’s future. As global citizens interested in Africa, I appreciate your commitment to this shared vision and your willingness to work together toward a future that brings better governance, expanded democracy, and greater prosperity to Africa’s people.
Thank you very much for your time, thank you for this invitation, and now I turn it over to you for questions.