US Announces Major Interest In Nigeria's 2019 Elections

US Announces Major Interest In Nigeria's 2019 Elections

US Announces Major Interest In Nigeria's 2019 Elections

But to a large extent - and notably aside from a steady buildup of counterterrorist security partnerships in recent years - the USA has steadily retreated to the sidelines as African states have sought to develop their economies. The visit could also indicate the direction of the Trump administration in Africa.

The State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, when announcing the trip, said that its objective was "to further our partnerships with the governments and people of Africa".

Tillerson gave his speech at George Mason University in Virginia, shortly before setting off on his weeklong visit to Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria.

It's a starkly different message from the one Trump delivered in a meeting with US lawmakers this year that soon became public, forcing humiliated USA ambassadors to apologize and Trump to send a letter to African leaders affirming his respect.

And that's an area that we really are focusing on; on how to do a peaceful and democratic transition.

Tillerson had reiterated the importance of democracy for Africa to achieve her potentials.

The state department said: "How do we advance political and economic reform that will help in the transition process?" It's only five countries out of over fifty and the trends that are going on for economic development, public health, education and agriculture, and governance have all been ignored and papered over by the constant talk of Boko Haram, or other insurgent movements in the arc of instability.

It said, however, that Ethiopia remained a challenge for the U.S. and a focus for it as well and an opportunity.

"I get that [Tillerson] is positioning security as the precondition for prosperity, and many African leaders - clearly those he'll be meeting with - will agree with that", says Aubrey Hruby, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Africa Center.

"Military operations are having some success in weakening the group while creating space for the Somalis to undertake the political reconciliation and economic reform necessary to defeat the forces of extremism over the longer term", the United States official wrote in response to a Nation query about the status of the Somali insurgency. "What has happened is that over the last 10 years the U.S. has not increased its engagement of African economies as much as others have", she adds, "so that has made it look like the United States is slipping behind".

Geng Shuang was responding to USA accusation that low interest loans from China and other countries have driven some sub-Saharan African countries deeper into debt.

The department explained that, obviously, a lot of those African countries were still fragile democracies and the USA was trying to strengthen them.

But the Atlantic Council's Hruby says that more effective than warnings about other countries' level of engagement would be a move by the United States - both public and private sectors - beyond rhetoric to sustained partnerships. "But they do feel like they don't have a lot of alternatives".

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