May 19, 2024

Sudan, Russia, Ethiopia, U.S.-Africa ties latest

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken participate in the U.S.-Africa Summit Leaders Session on partnering on the African Union’s Agenda 2063 in Washington, D.C., on December 15, 2022. [State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha
President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken participate in the U.S.-Africa Summit Leaders Session on partnering on the African Union’s Agenda 2063 in Washington, D.C., on December 15, 2022. [State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

Ties between the United States and Africa were highlighted again on Wednesday with new announcements made on Russia, Sudan and elsewhere.

Here are the latest statements across the United States government on ties between the United States and Africa

Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing by the ICC Prosecutor for Sudan

Mark Simonoff
Legal Advisor
New York, New York
January 25, 2023

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Prosecutor Khan, for your report and for your briefing to the Council today on the Court’s ongoing investigations and prosecutions regarding the situation in Darfur. We appreciate your dedication and the unwavering commitment of the judges, attorneys, and staff of the International Criminal Court to the pursuit of justice for the people of Darfur.

We continue to monitor the ongoing trial proceedings in the case involving former Janjaweed commander, Mr. Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb.

This is a landmark case – the first trial against any senior leader for atrocities committed by the Omar al-Bashir regime and government-supported forces in Darfur and, more importantly, the first real opportunity for justice that victims of Darfur have had. We acknowledge the bravery of all of those witnesses and victims who have come forward. We also appreciate the work of court personnel who have facilitated their participation and ensured their safety and security.

This is a crucial moment for Sudan’s future. Just a few weeks ago, the parties signed onto a framework political agreement for the restoration of Sudan’s democratic transition. After more than a year since the military takeover, this agreement, and the recent launch of Phase 2 dialogues on outstanding issues, are promising steps towards establishment of a final agreement to form a civilian government.

The Framework Political Agreement also reflects the values of the 2019 revolution, recognizing the diversity of the Sudanese people and committing to creating a new state based on core democratic principles and human rights norms. The fact that these negotiations have happened at all is a testament to the Sudanese women, men, and youth who have persistently and courageously taken to the streets to demand their rights and to call for civilian rule, despite facing violence at the hands of Sudanese security forces.

But some of the hardest challenges lie ahead as the parties begin to address a set of thorny issues in these Phase 2 dialogues, including transitional justice, the Juba Peace Agreement, and security sector reform. But the violence that we have continued to see in Darfur, Blue Nile, and elsewhere demonstrates the importance of addressing these issues in inclusive dialogues. As negotiations move forward, we underscore the importance of full respect for freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.

The impact of decades of dictatorship under Omar al Bashir will not be erased overnight. Sudan will need a holistic transitional justice strategy to address the needs of victims, rebuild trust, repair relationships among communities, and set Sudan on a path where human rights are respected.

As part of this broader strategy, we strongly urge Sudan’s authorities to comply with their international legal obligations pursuant to Resolution 1593 and move forward in cooperating with the ICC in the areas that the Prosecutor has repeatedly outlined as priorities. There are three suspects subject to ICC arrest warrants who are currently in Sudanese custody: Omar al Bashir, Ahmed Harun, and Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein.

Cooperation with the ICC on these cases is central to finally delivering justice in Darfur. It would be a clear signal that Sudan’s leaders are committed to the principles of justice and accountability as set forth in the Framework Political Agreement. The Sudanese authorities must continue to permit ICC teams to travel within the country. In addition, they must act on the many outstanding requests from the Prosecutor for evidence and other information and assistance, including by providing unimpeded access to key witnesses and taking steps to facilitate an enhanced ICC field presence.

Over the next few months, we will continue to stand with the Sudanese people as they work to find common ground on how transitional justice, including accountability for the violence in many decades of conflict, can advance truth, justice, reconciliation, and healing.

Thank you, Mr. President.

###

Department Press Briefing – January 25, 2023

Department Press Briefing
Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
Washington, D.C.
January 25, 2023

[Excerpted …] 

MR PRICE: Good afternoon, everyone. Happy Wednesday. We have a couple things at the top, and then we’ll take your questions.

First, the United States has officially taken on the chairship of the Freedom Online Coalition from the previous chair, Canada. This is a commitment the United States made at the first Summit for Democracy last December.

The Freedom Online Coalition is the only international group of countries specifically dedicated to supporting and advancing respect for human rights online and in digital contexts. Its purpose is to protect the promise of the internet as an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable global “network of networks” and to ensure that the same human rights that people have offline are protected online. The coalition demonstrated its impact, for example, when its members came together in October to jointly condemn the internet shutdown perpetrated by Iranian authorities as part of their brutal suppression of peaceful protests, the Freedom Online Coalition’s first-ever statement addressing a single country’s internet censorship.

During our chairship, and in partnership with the Freedom Online Coalition’s 34 member countries and its nongovernmental Advisory Network, we intend to build on Canada’s excellent work to bolster the coalition’s policy efforts on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms online; building resilience to digital authoritarianism and the misuse of digital technologies; advancing norms, principles, and safeguards regarding the development and use of artificial intelligence; and promoting digital inclusion.

We are excited to continue strengthening our partnership with like-minded governments, civil society, industry, and other relevant stakeholders to reclaim the promise of the internet and look forward to an impactful year as chair of the Freedom Online Coalition.

Next, and finally, the United States strongly condemns the murder of Thulani Maseko, a prominent human rights lawyer in Eswatini and a champion of social justice who was shot and killed on January 21st. Eswatini has lost a powerful voice for nonviolence and respect for human rights, as Maseko spent his life fighting for human rights using nonviolent means. We offer condolences to his family and friends, and we call for a full, transparent, and impartial investigation, as well as accountability for those responsible.

We remain deeply concerned about continuing violence in Eswatini, and we continue to urge the Government of Eswatini to set a date for an inclusive, national dialogue as soon as possible, as this is the best way to ensure respect for human rights, national healing, and lasting peace.

With that, Matt.

….

QUESTION: It’s getting more and more difficult for the United States to bring peace, so to end the war between Russia and Ukraine. And as you know, the Russia minister of foreign affairs is in Angola. He just met President Lourenço today. And I would like you to explain a little bit of what is the view of the U.S. administration on how African nations can help bring peace or end the war between Russia and Ukraine, because this in the great interest of African leaders. And they also want to end this war. And because the foreign minister of Russia is in Angola, I think even President Lourenço is trying to find a way to end this war that is affecting many country, including African nations. So what is the view of U.S. on how African nations can help put the end on this war?

MR PRICE: I would start by saying that African nations are in a unique and special position to lend their voices to ideally help bring about an end to President Putin’s aggression, and I say that because so many African nations have histories and legacies that are shaped by colonialism. Their histories and legacies have been morphed and, in some cases, distorted by the efforts of other countries to do what Russia is trying to do to Ukraine, to redraw borders arbitrarily, to dictate to countries what their orientation should be, what their choices should be. Across the continent of Africa, there is deep respect for the UN system, for the UN Charter, for international law. And I think that deep respect is born of the fact that for many decades across the continent, those principles weren’t adhered to. And the principles that are at the heart of the UN Charter, at the heart of international law were disregarded, and so African countries feel this acutely.

We think what countries across the continent and across the world can do most effectively is to make clear where they stand, to make clear to Russia, to visiting Russian interlocutors, but also to countries around the world that they stand for the UN system, they stand for the UN Charter, they stand for international law, and they stand against any effort to subvert that. African countries know all too well the consequences of a systemic subversion of those very principles, and lending their voice and making clear, not only to the Russian Federation but also to the rest of the world, that it’s not something they will tolerate, that itself would be very powerful.

QUESTION: And do you think it is appropriate, for example, for African nations who have received a lot of support from Russia in years to right now kind of give back to them? Because we heard also from the Congress that the United States is trying to pass some kind of law to force African nations not to work with Russia. But do you think this is a right decision for African nations to do right now when it comes to deal with Russia?

MR PRICE: I think what you’re pointing to is just a historical reality. It is again born of the fact that for many decades, the United States was not in a position to be a partner to so many countries across the African continent and, for various reasons, the Soviet Union was or Russia was. That of course has changed; that dynamic no longer holds. It eroded with the end of the Cold War. It has gone away entirely in the decades since.

The United States is ready, willing, and able to be a partner of first resort to the countries across Africa. You heard that very clearly from President Biden when he invited African heads of state and government to Washington late last year for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. He made very clear that we’re all-in on Africa in a way that the United States hasn’t been able to be all-in on Africa before. This is a dynamic that evolved over many decades. It is a dynamic that will likely take many years to chip away at and to ultimately reverse.

But we are committed to making the investment, to demonstrating both in word and in deed that we want a true partnership, a partnership with the countries of Africa that presents both of our peoples with opportunities. We are not looking to engage – to use Africa as a new geopolitical stomping ground or playground. We’re not looking for relationships that are extractive, that export chaos, that export instability, that advantage only American private companies, as you’ve seen an approach taken by countries who have a different model. Our model is one of true partnership, where we seek to do and to take on challenges and opportunities with the countries of Africa together in a way that provides both our people greater prosperity, greater stability, greater security, and greater opportunity.

QUESTION: One last one on the DRC. How the United States expect to support the election process that this country will go through this year, taking into account the instability going on there?

MR PRICE: Well, we had an opportunity to discuss the elections with the Government of the DRC, with President Tshisekedi and his team, when we were in the DRC in August of last year. Free and fair elections is what we advocate for around the world. We want to see and the people of the DRC want to enjoy free and fair elections, but you also have to have the conditions to conduct a free and fair election as such. President Tshisekedi and his government have committed to doing that, committed to fulfilling their – have committed to fulfilling and carrying forward with those free and fair elections. We will continue to be a partner where it is of use to our partners in the DRC, and we look forward to those free and fair elections in the DRC later this year.

Yeah, Leon?

QUESTION: Just to stay in the region, in Africa, two questions and very unrelated. On Nigeria, there was this – I’m sure very carefully calibrated – statement this morning by the Secretary, but a little bit strange in the sense that you are imposing sanctions, visa restrictions against Nigerian individuals. But you don’t name them and you don’t say if they’re part of the government or what have you. And then you go on to say this is not against the Government – precisely – of Nigeria, and – so you do you have any details as to which individuals we’re talking about, at least if they’re part of the government or what have you?

MR PRICE: Well, I can tell you why we didn’t go into greater detail, and that’s because visa records are confidential. I know this is an issue we’ve discussed before. It’s an issue that can be deeply unsatisfying when we’re trying to explain what it is that we’ve announced. But what I can say is that, just as you said, this is a policy that doesn’t target the Nigerian people, that, to the contrary, seeks to support the Nigerian people and their desire for free and fair elections in the coming weeks. This policy does cover those believed to be responsible for, complicit in undermining democracy, including through the rigging of the electoral process; corruption; vote buying; intimidation of voters, the media, or elections observers through threats or acts of physical violence; suppression of peaceful protests; threats against judicial independence; or the abuse or violation of human rights in Nigeria.

We wanted to send a very clear message, just as we indicated we would prior to the enactment of this visa restriction policy, that the United States will be watching very carefully the actions of those who would engage in any such activities. When we see that, we’re prepared to revoke visas, to take other actions as appropriate. And today, we make good – we made good on that pledge.

Yes.

[End Excerpt]

For full text of briefing, please follow this link.

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