Clarification

J'ai récemment rendu publique une lettre que j'ai écrite à la Cour Pénale Internationale (CPI) pour demander la libération de Jean-Pierre Bemba. Je pense que le temps qu'il a passé en prison constitue jusqu'à présent une peine suffisante pour le crime pour lequel il a été condamné.

Certains observateurs congolais ont interprété ma déclaration comme un signal que le gouvernement américain ne considère pas les candidats de l'opposition Felix Tshisekedi et Moïse Katumbi comme suffisamment qualifiés pour être candidats à la présidence, et que je demande la libération de M. Bemba comme étant le plus qualifié.

Il n'y a pas de vérité dans cette interprétation. Ni le gouvernement américain, ni moi, n'avons aucune préférence quant aux candidats aux élections en RDC. Nous travaillons tous pour encourager une élection libre et juste. Au sein du Département d'Etat américain, Felix Tshisekedi et Moïse Katumbi sont considérés comme de bons candidats avec de bonnes opportunités d'être élus. Il y a d'autres candidats forts dans différents partis.

Notre objectif principal est que les élections libres et équitables soient organisées conformément à l’ACCORD DE LA SYLVESTRE. Ni plus, ni moins.

Clarifying Letter to the ICC

I have recently made public a letter that I wrote to the International Criminal Court pleading for the release of Jean-Pierre Bemba. I feel that the time he has spent in prison so far constitutes sufficient punishment for the crime for which he was convicted.

Some Congolese observers have interpreted my statement as a signal that the American Government does not consider opposition candidates Felix Tshisekedi and Moïse Katumbi as being sufficiently qualified to be presidential candidates, and that I am seeking Mr. Bemba's liberation as suggesting that he would be more qualified.

There is no truth to this interpretation. Neither the US Government, nor I, have preferred candidates in the DRC election. We both are working to encourage a free and fair election. In the US State Department, Felix Tshisekedi and Moïse Katumbi are considered strong candidates with good opportunities to be elected. There are other strong candidates in different parties.

Our main objective is that free and fair elections be held in accordance with the Saint-Sylvestre Agreement. Nothing more, nothing less.

Une semaine difficile du président Kabila à Washington

La crise politique en cours en République démocratique du Congo a été une des principaux sujets du jour dans les cercles des affaires étrangères de Washington pendant la semaine du 21 au 25 mai 2018. Les représentants de la société civile congolaise et de l'administration Kabila avaient assisté à un déjeuner d’un forum du Congrès américain et avait été accueilli différemment.

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Barbara Bush, 1925-2018

Barbara Bush, 1925-2018

During George H.W. Bush’s term as President of the United States, I served as his Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. In that capacity, I had the privilege of being in the presence of the First Lady, Mrs. Barbara Bush, usually during visits by African heads of state when Mrs. Bush would host their spouses for coffee or tea.

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Secretary Tillerson’s Visit to Africa: Advice and Predictions

Secretary Tillerson’s Visit to Africa: Advice and Predictions

Secretary Tillerson will be taking his first official visit to Africa starting March 7, meeting with leaders in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria.

The State Department announced that the Secretary will be addressing issues of counter-terrorism, peace and security, good governance, and trade and investment.

The countries Secretary Tillerson is scheduled to visit, and the key issues to be addressed, reflect clear continuity in U.S. policy priorities in sub-Saharan Africa since the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Here is my advice to the Secretary for each of his planned meetings.

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Ethiopia's Prime Minister Desalegn has resigned. What's next?

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Desalegn has resigned. What's next?

It is not surprising that after three years in office – three years of famine, violence, and serious political and social instability – Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has resigned, effective with the swearing-in of his replacement within a few weeks. The regime has also announced a six-month “state of emergency,” under which political and press freedoms are severely curtailed.

What do these developments mean for the Ethiopian people?

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Corruption: Africa's Challenge

Corruption: Africa's Challenge

Corruption is the theme of this month's African Union meeting in Addis Ababa. It is refreshing that African leaders will discuss the subject in public. Some leaders are more committed than others to ending the cycle of graft which has dogged Africa since the colonial era.

Africa is not alone in this problem. Theft through corruption occurs in practically every nation – the early days of American industrialization were rife with graft. But in Africa, it has persisted as a potent force to stymie economic development and prosperity. 

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Special Comment on President Trump's Insulting Remark About African Countries

To all my friends and colleagues in African governments, African civil society, and African business enterprises:

I recommend that you do not take seriously the insulting remarks about African countries made by President Trump as reported by the American press on Thursday, January 11.

Sadly, he clearly is unaware of the hundreds of thousands of Africans who have come to the United States as immigrants, and who are making valuable contributions as professionals in health sciences, law, business enterprises, education and government. In addition, African immigrants to the United States in all walks of life have outstanding reputations as law abiding citizens with strong families and loyalty to their new nationality.  

Rest assured that our foreign service officers representing the U.S. at our embassies in Africa have deep respect for your nations and a commitment to deepening and strengthening our relationships, which benefit us collectively.

Too much is at stake to take this seriously, and I believe more than ever in the potential for strong and productive relations between the nations and peoples of Africa and those of the United States.
 
I hope that Congressional members and other representatives of the US government will rebuke the President’s insensitive remarks.
 
Please forgive President Trump.

Rough Seas Ahead for President Kabila

Joseph_Kabila_UNGA_2014.jpg

In my time in the Foreign Service, I worked in nations across Africa whose people welcomed the departure of colonial overseers with hopes for democracy and better governance, only to see those hopes dashed by leaders who became so enamored with power that they never wanted to leave.

On the 17th anniversary of Joseph Kabila’s rise to power, it is clear that he has overstayed his welcome.

It is likely to be a difficult year for President Kabila. There is a growing international consensus that the DRC’s instability owes to the Kabila regime’s deliberate violations of the constitution to delay legally mandated elections. This is likely to result in increased pressure from the U.S. and international community in the coming months for elections to be held no later than December of 2018, and potentially, a rise in state-sponsored violence.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the violence against protestors perpetrated by the DRC security forces, opening the door to further sanctions by interested foreign governments. Members of the U.S. Congress are preparing legislation which would expand the US sanctions already in place against key individuals in the Kabila regime. These new sanctions are likely to come close to President Kabila and his immediate family.

President Kabila failed to hold elections in 2017, as was agreed in the December 2016 compromise negotiated by the Catholic Church. But he is also in blatant violation of several other important aspects of the agreement. First, the opposition was not given an opportunity to name a new Prime Minister from its own ranks. Instead, the President selected an individual supposedly associated with the opposition to be Prime Minister. Second, the President has refused to make a public commitment that he would not be a candidate in the election. 

Despite the foot-dragging, the one positive development was the start of voter registration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) in mid-2017. In October 2017, the CENI announced that the election could not be held prior to the first half of 2019; because of international pressure, especially from United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, it rescheduled the election for December 23, 2018.

The DRC political opposition no longer accepts President Kabila’s legitimacy after his failure to hold elections last year. Their political battle cry is “Transition Without Kabila.” They are demanding that a transitional government be put in place for the purpose of preparing for the election. It is quite clear that this will not happen.

The DRC’s Roman Catholic Archbishops, who negotiated the December 2016 agreement for elections in 2017, understandably feel betrayed. They called for mass peaceful demonstrations on December 31, 2017. The Kabila regime has tried to prevent these demonstrations with a brutal show of force. Security forces entered churches during mass, firing tear gas and live ammunition while the faithful were in prayer. This shocked the entire world, but did not weaken the Congolese people’s resolve.

Felix Tshisekedi, head of the “Rassemblement” coalition and the DRC’s main opposition leader still residing in the country, has issued a formal announcement that the opposition does not recognize President Kabila’s authority, and has called upon the international community to join in this declaration. It remains to be seen whether foreign governments will continue to recognize President Kabila as the DRC’s legitimate leader after his numerous violations of the country’s democratic process.

After Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, President Kabila hoped that US policy would change towards the DRC. It has not. The Trump administration has generally continued President Obama’s Africa policy, promoting democracy, an end to violence, and good governance, along with economic development through private sector investment. Kabila’s repeated defiance of his country’s constitution and violations of the agreements he has made to hold legitimate elections continue to be a top international issue for the U.S. under the new administration. 

Kabila had a chance to be a new kind of African leader who relinquishes power in a peaceful democratic transition. But he is simply acting as earlier strongmen did. He should not expect an ease in U.S. or international pressure anytime soon. 

(Photo: UN Photo / Cia Pak)

Ethiopia at an Ominous Crossroads

Ethiopia at an Ominous Crossroads

Since seizing the government by force of arms in 1991, the TPLF-controlled Ethiopian regime has maintained monopolies over economic and political power ever since, and has therefore dominated all other nationalities and ethnic groups. It is this refusal to share political power and wealth on the part of the TPLF that is causing the violent demonstrations of dissent within the Oromo and Amhara states. Government efforts to divert attention to cross border violence between Oromo and Somali states cannot hide its responsibility for the instability brought on by its refusal to grant the Ethiopian people the self-determination granted by their constitution.

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President Trump's National Security Strategy

President Trump's National Security Strategy

President Trump has issued the annual “National Security Strategy” report, as required by law. Here is my analysis of what it means for African leaders and U.S. Africa relations.

The strategy generally follows President Trump’s emphasis on “America First,” indicating he does not want other countries to take advantage of US generosity in development programs and trade.

Much of the document could have been written by the George H.W. Bush (41) or Obama administrations, and hews closely to their policy positions. But there are several elements which should catch the attention of African governments as they could affect U.S.-Africa trade and security relationships.

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Zimbabwe: President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Challenge

Zimbabwe: President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Challenge

What we have just witnessed in Zimbabwe was not a revolution to overthrow a corrupt system. It was a power struggle within that corrupt system. Former President Mugabe wanted to install his much younger wife as his successor. The old guard, who understandably felt threatened, moved to stop him. The correct question from this point has become, “what happens next?”

The new President has heard the ordinary people of Zimbabwe cheering in the streets at the news of Mugabe’s resignation. Consequently, Mnangagwa is telling them what they want to hear.

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Zimbabwe Was a Victim of Mugabe’s Marxist Ideology

Zimbabwe Was a Victim of Mugabe’s Marxist Ideology

Robert Mugabe began his tenure as a reasonable head of state after leading Zimbabwe to majority rule in 1980. He understood that Zimbabwe’s relative prosperity, and good economic outlook, were highly dependent on the continued cooperation of white commercial farmers. He did everything possible to reassure farmers who wanted to remain on their farms.

Mugabe accepted a constitution guaranteeing seven white members of parliament. He also named a white farmer’s union head to his Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture. His attitude toward the white commercial farmer was so positive that new white farmers came to Zimbabwe to buy land.

Mugabe was also very strong on education. The number of Africans graduating from high school and university rose significantly during the first fifteen years of his administration.

But underlying Mugabe’s constructive view of power was a deep-seated ideology that would eventually cause him to destroy everything that his administration, and the white Rhodesians before him, had worked so hard to build.

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