U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken departed Kenya on Thursday after strengthening ties with a key U.S. partner, and headed to Africa’s most populous country where he is scheduled to meet with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama to discuss furthering cooperation on global health security, expanding energy access and economic growth, and revitalizing democracy.
Blinken will deliver a speech on U.S.-Africa policy in the capital of Africa’s largest democracy. Additionally, the Secretary will engage with Nigerian entrepreneurs in the digital sector.
“Kwaheri Kenya! Asante Sana to President Kenyatta and the people of Kenya for your hospitality and generosity. This important visit underlined the strength of the U.S- Kenya partnership,” Blinken said in a tweet.
In Kenya, Blinken met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and civil society leaders, and discussed regional crises, including the situations in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.
On Wednesday, he met with Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu in Nairobi, Kenya, and both leaders discussed regional crises, including the situations in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia.
Blinken, who is on his first official visit to Sub-Saharan Africa since he assumed duties earlier this year, called for the Sudanese military one more time to hand power back to ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, restore the entire civilian-led government there and release all political detainees.
“On Sudan, the Secretary encouraged sustained regional efforts to restore Prime Minister Hamdok and the civilian-led transitional government consistent with the Constitutional Declaration, lift the state of emergency, release all civilian detainees since the military takeover, and allow pro-democracy demonstrations to take place peacefully,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Price said Secretary Blinken also underscored the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia and stressed the need for all sides to enter into talks.
The conflict in Ethiopia between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian Defense Force has been going on for a year. The United States, the United Nations and others estimate that hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and millions remain at an increased risk of famine. Thousands more have died.
In recent weeks, the mediation has been led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is acting as the African Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa. Obasanjo is supported by others, including the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman.
But with the security situation worsening, the United States government on Tuesday reiterated its call for American citizens to leave the country while commercial flights are still available.
According to Price, Blinken also “affirmed the commitment of the United States to the people of South Sudan and noted the need for Juba to cooperate in building peace and security.”
On Somalia, Blinken stressed the importance of the completion of Somalia’s national elections by the end of the year and U.S. support for a restructured African Union-led mission to lead international security efforts post-2021,Price added.