U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is not failing Africa despite a plethora of coups across the continent in the past few months, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters from Africa on Friday morning where she was wrapping up a three-country mission to the continent along with her colleagues from the United Nations Security Council.
Asked by Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba whether the American leader was failing Africa, and failing to uphold his promise to defend democracy against autocracy, following coups in Mali, Guinea and Sudan, and instability in Ethiopia, Chad and Tunisia, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield vehemently defended her boss.
“Ambassador, as you just said, the president of Mali has been overthrown. The president of Guinea has been overthrown. The prime minister of Sudan has been overthrown. The president of Chad has been killed. The president of Tunisia has overthrown the parliament, sacked his prime minister, and consolidated power. While the prime minister of Ethiopia is bombing Tigray and using nondemocratic means to consolidate power. And there are talks of possible coups and instability in Nigeria and Cameroon. It seems Africa is going the way of China. Is President Biden failing Africa? Is he failing to uphold his promise to defend democracy against autocracy? And since social media are playing a big role in the new trends of misinformation and coups in Africa, is the U.S. Government failing to support independent media and activists who can stand for democracy? Does the U.S. Government have to go beyond condemnation and concern and empower independent media and activists?” Simon Ateba asked President Biden’s ally.
“No, the Biden administration is not failing Africa,” she said. “We are committed to this continent, we are engaging with the continent, and despite the coups that you listed, there are bright spots across the continent.”
She cited the example of Niger, a country in West Africa, describing it as “an extraordinary country where they have had the first turnover of power to an elected president, President Bazoum, and we see tremendous opportunities in that country. They are the bright light on the continent of Africa.”
She added, “There are countries like Ghana where we’re seeing a democratic election that has led to a stable government, and they have had one democratic transition after another. That does not mean we are not concerned about the situation in Ethiopia, where we know that the solution to that situation is not military.
“We are seeing Ethiopians kill Ethiopians, and we have to look for an opportunity to encourage the government and all of the other parties involved in this conflict to come to the negotiating table and find a solution that allows the people of Ethiopia to move forward and return to the prosperity that we saw Ethiopia accomplishing.
“We are strong supporters of the free press. We encourage that wherever we go. We talk to governments and we talk to them honestly about the importance of allowing for a free press. And we are relentless in our advocacy for press freedoms and for the rights of civil society.
“So again, while we see these worrying trends that you describe, we also see some positive signs on the continent of Africa. And I would say that African youth are a part of that. I will be meeting with young African YALI fellows here in Gabon later today, and I can tell you without a doubt that these young people all across the continent are really the future of this continent. And while you’re sitting in Washington, D.C., I see you as the future as well and being able to provide all of you on this call, being able to provide accurate information that people can use to make decisions about their future. Disinformation is a huge issue, but you have the power to fix that.”