June 20, 2024

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: What I learned from my trip to Mali, Niger and Gabon

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, has just wrapped up what she described as “an excellent trip” to Mali, Niger and Gabon, and meeting with reporters from Libreville, the capital of Gabon on Friday, she told them how it all went.

Thomas-Greenfield was part of a United Nations Security Council mission to the three African nations located in the Sahel and Central Africa.

She said, “I just concluded an excellent trip to Mali and Niger as part of a Security Council delegation, and today I am in Gabon, which will be joining the Security Council starting in January of 2022. 

“At every stop, I met with our strategic partners to discuss our shared goals at this important moment for our relationships in the Sahel and Central Africa. 

“In Mali, as part of the Security Council delegation and in separate meetings, I met with the transition government, including the president and prime minister, to discuss the importance of Mali’s return to constitutional rule through democratic elections and the critical role MINUSMA plays in promoting peace and security. 

“In those meetings, as well as discussions with Malian civil society, representatives to the Algiers Accord Monitoring Committee, and the international mediation team, we reiterated that the United States continues to stand firmly with the people of Mali in their aspirations for democracy, peace, development, and respect for human rights.  

“We moved on to Niger, also with the Security Council, and we continued discussions with members of the government, including the president and the G5 Sahel Joint Force representatives, on the importance of democratic institutions in the region and the rapid spread of instability and violent extremism throughout the Sahel.  

“In my bilateral discussions we looked for ways to collaborate on our shared goals, especially during Niger’s remaining time on the Security Council. 

“I personally congratulated President Bazoum on Niger’s first-ever transfer of power from one democratically elected president to the next. 

“We are working closely with African institutions and partners, including the G5 Sahel and ECOWAS, as well as international partners to build civilian institutional capacity to confront the persistent challenges that are occurring here in the region. 

“And finally, here in Gabon, I have had productive meetings with the government. I congratulated them on Gabon’s recent election to the United Nations Security Council, which is a recognition of Gabon’s role as a global climate leader and as a regional leader promoting peace. 

“That leadership is so important, because the window for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is narrowing. And right now, world leaders – including President Bongo – are gathering in Glasgow to attend COP26. 

“As the African Union Champion for Climate Change, President Bongo has been leading the way by protecting the Congo Basin Forest, a net carbon dioxide absorber that the whole world benefits from.  

“Protecting the security of Gabon’s precious forests is paramount to our success in the fight against climate change, and I’m glad to see these efforts first-hand at the Raponda Walker Arboretum* this morning. 

“Throughout the visit, I have emphasized that the United States is engaging African countries regularly as partners in pursuing our shared goals and our global and regional priorities – including ending the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“And as part of that commitment, I was proud to arrive in Mali and Gabon to receive new shipments of COVID-19 vaccines provided by the American people. In Niger, I saw U.S.-donated vaccines being put in arms. These vaccines were provided with one goal in mind: to meet and defeat this pandemic together. 

“As we seek to advance our shared global and regional priorities with our African partners, we are committed to working with and through African institutions.  

“We have a longstanding partnership with the African Union, as exemplified by our collaboration to combat COVID-19. 

“And we are working with African governments and businesses, entrepreneurs, civil society, the American private sector, and international financial institutions to accelerate equitable and sustainable economic growth across the continent. 

“In particular, we hope to magnify the entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism of women and youth across Africa, and encourage African governments to do the same.  

“This has been a very productive trip, one of a series of recent senior-level engagements in Africa, and I was proud to reaffirm our commitments with our partners in Mali, Niger, and Gabon.” 

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