June 17, 2024

U.S. moving diplomatic representation for São Tomé and Príncipe from Gabon to Angola. The island is the second smallest country in Africa after Seychelles with just over 200,000 inhabitants

Tulinabo S. Mushingi
Ambassador Tulinabo S. Mushingi

The United States government announced on August 11 that it was moving its diplomatic representation for São Tomé and Príncipe to the U.S. Embassy in Luanda, Angola, from the U.S. Embassy in Libreville, Gabon, “because of São Tomé and Príncipe’s longstanding cultural, linguistic, and economic ties to Angola.”

The announcement came a day after the U.S. Ambassador to Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe Dr. Tulinabo S. Mushingi presented his credentials to President Carlos Vila Nova of São Tomé and Príncipe on August 10.

“Ambassador Mushingi and the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Luanda look forward to working with the people of São Tomé and Príncipe to advance our shared goals of peace, prosperity, and good governance. We are also eager to partner with São Tomé and Príncipe on our mutual regional objectives, such as ocean conservation and maritime security,” the U.S. government said in a statement.

Known in Portuguese as São Tomé and Príncipe and in English as Saint Thomas and Prince, the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is an island country in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa.

Official reports say the island consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, about 150 km (93.21 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 km (155 and 140 mi) off the north-western coast of Gabon.

With a small population of just over 200,000, São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest and second-least populous African sovereign state after Seychelles. The islands were uninhabited until their discovery by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century.

Gradually colonized and settled throughout the 16th century, the islands collectively served as a vital commercial and trade centre for the Atlantic slave trade. The rich volcanic soil and proximity to the equator made São Tomé and Príncipe ideal for sugar cultivation, followed later by cash crops such as coffee and cocoa; the lucrative plantation economy was heavily dependent upon African slaves.

Cycles of social unrest and economic instability throughout the 19th and 20th centuries culminated in peaceful independence in 1975. São Tomé and Príncipe has since remained one of Africa’s most stable and democratic countries. The people of São Tomé and Príncipe are predominantly of African and mestiço descent, with most practicing Roman Catholicism.

The legacy of Portuguese rule is also visible in the country’s culture, customs, and music, which fuse European and African influences. São Tomé and Príncipe is a founding member state of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

Meanwhile, the United States continued to advance its diplomatic ties in Africa last week. On August 12, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, hosted Malawian government anti-corruption reformers, Indian anti-corruption champions from Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKKS), and a representative from the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to discuss anti-corruption best practices and priorities.

The meeting, which followed conversations that Administrator Power had with anti-corruption reformers during her July trip to Malawi as well as separate meetings with MKKS and OGP, included attendees Martha Chizuma, Head of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Board and Dr. Jean Priminta, Director General of Malawi’s Financial Intelligence Authority.

USAID Acting Spokesperson Shejal Pulivarti said in a statement, “Administrator Power underscored the importance of sharing global lessons to curb corruption and reiterated the United States’ commitment to supporting transparency and accountability efforts.”

You can also read full remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield during an interview with Laura Trevelyan of BBC World News in New York City on August 12.

Asked about her recently trip to the African countries of Ghana, Uganda, and Cape Verde and what the leaders were telling her, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield responded, “They certainly are suffering because of the war. There are shortages because of the war. Prices are extraordinarily high for energy, as well as for fertilizer. When I was in Ghana, I met with farmers who told me that they’ve had to cut their production because of the shortage of fertilizer. One farmer who ordinarily would plant 10 acres told me he was only planting four because he doesn’t have enough fertilizer. So, yes, all of the leaders recognize that there is an impact in their countries due to the war. They all call for an end to the war, but they also are looking for assistance and how to address these immediate concerns. And that was the purpose of my visit to talk to them about how we could assist.”

The full interview is below:

QUESTION: Ambassador, how concerned are you about the shelling in and around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Plant in Russian-occupied Ukraine?

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are very concerned about the situation around this plant. We’ve asked that the Russians leave this plant and allow for the IAEA to go in and do investigations to ensure that the plant is safe. And at this moment, they have not agreed to that, although they’ve asked for it. And as you know we will be holding a meeting in the Security Council – a meeting that the Russians called – where we will insist that they allow for the IAEA to have access to the plant. And that they stop using this plant as a military base.

QUESTION: Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for the shelling around this nuclear plant. Does the United States have any intelligence about who is actually behind it?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We do not. But that’s the reason we want the IAEA to get in there to see exactly what is happening on the ground, and to ensure that the plant is safe. If there’s conflict going on around the plant, it needs to stop.

QUESTION: The United Nations Secretary-General is calling for a demilitarized zone around this nuclear plant. Does the United States support that idea?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we support any efforts that will allow for this plant to be safely administered and making it a demilitarized area, which means having the Russians leave the plant is something that we support.

QUESTION: Ambassador, you have just been in Africa, where the war in Ukraine is driving up the price of food. You went to Ghana, Uganda, Cape Verde. What were leaders telling you? Are their people going hungry because of this war?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: They certainly are suffering because of the war. There are shortages because of the war. Prices are extraordinarily high for energy, as well as for fertilizer. When I was in Ghana, I met with farmers who told me that they’ve had to cut their production because of the shortage of fertilizer. One farmer who ordinarily would plant 10 acres told me he was only planting four because he doesn’t have enough fertilizer.

So, yes, all of the leaders recognize that there is an impact in their countries due to the war. They all call for an end to the war, but they also are looking for assistance and how to address these immediate concerns. And that was the purpose of my visit to talk to them about how we could assist.

QUESTION: And you were in Uganda, Ambassador, just a week after Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was there. Did you find as much support in Africa for Russia’s narrative that it’s actually Western sanctions because of the war in Ukraine that are driving up food prices and affecting Africans?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think Africans know the truth. They know that before this war started, they were not experiencing this level of shortages. I made clear to them that we have no sanctions on any agricultural products out of Russia – that Russia can export those products, they can buy those products. There’s no reason for Russia not to provide assistance. And I hope that when Lavrov was in Uganda, in Africa, that he talked about how Russia might facilitate providing more Russian wheat to the market.

QUESTION: Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, thanks so much for being with us.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.

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