Ambassador Nikki Haley’s Visit to Africa

US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is currently visiting Africa on behalf of President Donald Trump. During his official luncheon for African heads of State at the United Nations General Assembly in September, the President said he was concerned with two countries in crisis: South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He asked Ambassador Haley to visit these countries and make recommendations.

What is Ambassador Haley likely to find during her visit, and what is she likely to recommend?

Ambassador Haley’s first stop was Addis Ababa for consultations with the African Union. It was quite correct that she visits the African Union first, as this organization bears prime responsibility for conflict resolution in Africa. She also paid a courtesy call to the Government of Ethiopia.

Ambassador Haley took advantage of her talk with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, one of America’s best friends in Africa, to discuss that country’s internal problems. The federal state system in Ethiopia is based on ethnic geographic sub-regions. Since 2005, there has been growing political unrest in Ethiopia. Several of the individual states feel discriminated against by the group controlling the national government, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). 

In addition to ethnic discrimination, the national government has refused to implement political reforms. All elections are rigged. On the economic side, the non-Tigrayan population in regional states is resentful that the TPLF is monopolizing the entire economy.

According to initial reports, Ambassador Haley has bluntly told the Ethiopian authorities that they face growing instability if undemocratic practices continue. She has also encouraged the government to do more for the youth, many of whom do not see a promising future.

In view of the high priority that the US assigns to the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa, close cooperation between the US and Ethiopia is essential.

South Sudan

While visiting a refugee camp in Ethiopia, Nikki Haley said that the US is holding South Sudan President Salva Kiir responsible for the horrible ethnic war that has caused tens of thousands to die and millions to become refugees. If he does not stop the killing, the International Criminal Court awaits him.

In Juba, South Sudan, Ambassador Haley will find a horrible situation. Hundreds of thousands of people are either refugees or internally displaced. An internal ethnic war persists interminably. President Salva Kiir appears to be the leader of a single ethnic group, the Dinka, and not the leader of the entire South Sudanese people. South Sudan has one of the worst ongoing humanitarian situations in the world today. Ambassador Haley will want to know what President Kiir intends to do to bring about national reconciliation, peace and security. He will be unable to answer that question because his actions are contributing to the entire horrible situation.

I have frequently advocated that South Sudan be placed under temporary UN trusteeship so that the world body can accomplish what the colonial powers (Sudan and the UK) failed to do: create strong institutions, build necessary infrastructure, and prepare educated people for self-government. Without such a period of trusteeship, South Sudan is unlikely to free itself from its current anarchy.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In the DRC, Ambassador Haley will be wearing two hats. She will be representing the President of the United States, and at the same time, she will be representing the UN Security Council. This is significant because she will be asking the DRC government why it has not implemented two Security Council resolutions demanding free and fair elections before the end of 2017. The resolutions also demand that the government of the DRC implement the agreement on political reforms and democratic transition signed by the presidential majority and the united opposition on December 31, 2016. 

I expect that Ambassador Haley will be stern with President Kabila on issues such as the long election delay, allegations of money laundering on behalf of Hezbollah, political prisoners, and the many mass graves found in regions of opposition sentiment. 

To the best of my knowledge, the Trump administration’s view of the Kabila regime is the same as the Obama administration’s: quite negative, with a strong desire to see President Kabila depart peacefully. Ambassador Haley will be asking some very strong and provocative questions while in the DRC.