Saturday, May 30, 2015

U.S. Delegation Attends Inauguration of New Nigerian President

Photo: Bella Naija
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2015

President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Nigeria to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Nigeria to attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on May 29, 2015.

The Honorable John Kerry, Secretary of State, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

* The Honorable James F. Entwistle, U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Department of State
* The Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Department of State
* General David M. Rodriguez, Commander, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM)
* The Honorable Grant T. Harris, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council
* Mr. Hakeem Olajuwon, NBA Legend and Olympic Gold Medalist

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Ethiopia’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
May 28, 2015

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Ethiopia as you celebrate your national day on May 28.

I will never forget the story of a young Ethiopian woman named Haleta Giday, who I met last year in Washington. She had graduated from one of the best schools in your country. She could have had her pick of jobs. She chose to represent women and children who were the victims of violence. And when Haleta saw how many widows went bankrupt after they lost their husbands, she began a campaign to educate women about their legal and financial rights. Women like Haleta are a testament to the bright future facing your country.

Ethiopia has made great strides to promote economic growth and fight poverty. You are on track to meet most of your Millennium Development Goals this year. You are contributing troops to United Nations and Africa Union peacekeeping missions. And you are hosting refugees fleeing conflict and seeking peace.

The United States continues to work with you to advance basic education, improve health and food security, and promote regional security in Somalia and South Sudan. We are also committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and civil society in Ethiopia.

On this joyous day, I wish all Ethiopians peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

Two New African Ambassadors Present Letters of Credence at White House

AMIP News
Washington, DC
May 29, 2015

On Monday, May 18, 2015, two new African Ambassadors to the U.S. presented their Letters of Credence to President Obama at an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House.

They are:

* His Excellency Necton Darlington Mhura, Ambassador of the Republic of Malawi
* His Excellency Faycal Gouia, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia

The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington.

U.S. Issues Statement on Ethiopia’s May 24 Parliamentary and Regional Elections

Photo: Horn Africa
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 27, 2015

The United States commends the people of Ethiopia for their civic participation in generally peaceful parliamentary and regional elections on May 24. We acknowledge the National Electoral Board’s organizational efforts and the African Union’s role as the only international observer mission on the ground. We also note the importance of the nine televised party debates as progress in fostering open public discussion of the challenges facing the country. We encourage all candidates, political parties and their supporters to resolve any outstanding differences or concerns peacefully in accordance with Ethiopia’s constitution and laws.

The United States remains deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views. We regret that U.S. diplomats were denied accreditation as election observers and prohibited from formally observing Ethiopia’s electoral process. Apart from the election observation mission fielded by the African Union, there were no international observer missions on the ground in Ethiopia. We are also troubled that opposition party observers were reportedly prevented from observing the electoral process in some locations.

A free and vibrant media, space for civil society organizations to work on democracy and human rights concerns, opposition parties able to operate without impediment, and a diversity of international and domestic election observers are essential components for free and fair elections. The imprisonment and intimidation of journalists, restrictions on NGO activities, interference with peaceful opposition party activities, and government actions to restrict political space in the lead-up to election day are inconsistent with these democratic processes and norms.

The United States has a broad and strong partnership with Ethiopia and its people. We remain committed to working with the Ethiopian Government and its people to strengthen Ethiopia’s democratic institutions, improve press freedom, and promote a more open political environment consistent with Ethiopia’s international human rights obligations.

U.S. Concerned About Security Sector Reform in Lesotho

Press Statement
Jeff Rathke
Director, Office of Press Relations
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 27, 2015

The United States is concerned that no one has been held accountable for the August 2014 political unrest and violence between the military and police, yet the Government of Lesotho has reinstated one of the most polarizing figures from that difficult period as Commander of the Lesotho Defense Force. Other recent troubling developments include reports of kidnappings and abuse within the Lesotho Defense Force, the murder of a prominent supporter of the major opposition party, and the failure to provide security for former Prime Minister Thabane.

As a longstanding friend and partner, the United States urges the Government of Lesotho to take robust, concrete steps to address these concerns and demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and to the vital democratic principle of civilian control over the military. We encourage the Government of Lesotho to move forward vigorously with plans for security sector reform in a way that builds the confidence of Basotho in their government.

Rwandan Human Rights and U.S. Relations With Rwanda

Testimony
Steven Feldstein
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations
Washington, DC
May 20, 2015

As Prepared

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass and Members of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. Thank you for holding this important hearing on Rwanda and for the opportunity to speak today.

Rwanda holds a very personal connection for me. Fifteen years ago I first went to Rwanda as a fellow with the International Rescue Committee. I spent a year in the country supporting its efforts to recover from war and genocide – helping unaccompanied children and youth reintegrate back into their communities, working with villages to provide access to clean water, and traveling throughout the country to try to better understand what gives people the capacity to pick up their feet and move forward after such a shattering experience. Living in Rwanda had a profound impact on me and has been a key inspiration for my decision to pursue a career in foreign policy and human rights.

Indeed, Rwanda’s progress since the 1994 genocide has been remarkable. Rwanda’s GDP has grown at an estimated annual rate of 7 percent, youth literacy rates have improved from 65 percent in 2000 to 77 percent in 2010, and child and infant death rates have plummeted, going from an under-5 mortality rate of 152 children out of every 1,000 in 1990 to just 52 out of 1,000 in 2013. Rwanda also plays a crucial role in international peacekeeping operations, and has made great strides in its inclusion of women at all levels of government. Several years ago I paid a return visit to Kigali, and I found a city profoundly changed. Modern office towers have replaced dilapidated buildings. The streets were spotless – thanks in part to a widely acclaimed ban on plastic bags. New businesses seemed to be springing up daily, such as coffee ventures supplying top quality beans to U.S. brands like Starbucks and Peet’s.

But this is only part of the story. Alongside Rwanda’s remarkable development progress, there have been equally consistent efforts to reduce space for independent voices and to diminish the ability of the media, opposition groups, and civil society to operate. This space matters. It is essential not only for democratic progress, but for cementing Rwanda’s impressive economic and development gains.

When it comes to the human rights situation in Rwanda, we see three trends of note. First, political space in Rwanda and the overall human rights environment continues to shrink. There are reports of targeted killings, and an increasing number of reports of disappearances and harassment of civil society groups and opposition parties. Second, this trend is reinforcing the wrong lessons for Rwanda– particularly that a country can continue to experience robust economic growth and foreign investment even while repressing its citizens further and reducing democratic space. This is not a sustainable path. At some point – if unchecked – human rights violations will begin to affect Rwanda’s economic performance, stability and the willingness of foreign investors to pump in outside capital and do business. Third, Rwanda’s human rights records is setting a disturbing precedent for the region and continent. Other countries are carefully watching Rwanda’s model of economic liberalization and political repression. In my discussions, counterparts frequently point to Rwanda and question whether protecting the rights of their citizens matters if they can achieve substantial economic development.

The answer, of course, is that protecting the rights of all of Rwanda’s citizens and residents matters immensely to Rwanda’s long term stability and prosperity, to its continued positive economic trajectory, and to whether other countries recognize they can follow a similar path to greater prosperity. When governments repress fundamental freedoms and universal human rights, international investment can falter because this repression is a sign of societal fissures that can lead to instability and violence. This is also true when governments stifle civil society organizations that provide checks and balances on corruption and increase government accountability. Rwanda can be a model for the region, or it can slip backwards over time, never truly fulfilling its potential.

We have articulated our concerns about Rwanda’s human rights record for years directly to Rwanda’s senior leaders, including President Kagame, and we have highlighted the deteriorating situation in Rwanda, through the State Department’s annual human rights report. The Department’s 2013 human rights report for Rwanda noted that the government targeted political opponents and human rights advocates for harassment, arrest, and abuse. It reported that the government disregarded the rule of law and placed significant restrictions on the enjoyment of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, as well as restrictions on press freedoms. It observed that the government harassed and placed substantial limitations on local and international NGOs, particularly organizations that monitored and reported on human rights. And it highlighted reports that arbitrary or unlawful killings took place both inside and outside Rwanda.

The credibility of elections provides an important indication of the level of space for independent voices and views. Unfortunately, Presidential elections in 2010 and parliamentary elections in 2013 were beset by irregularities both in the pre-electoral period and on Election Day. Part of this is due to the passing in 2008 of the “genocide ideology” law, which was intended to restrict any actions that could lead to genocide. In practice, the government has used this law to impede the activities of opposition parties, opposition candidates, and civil society organizations. In the 2010 elections, in which President Kagame was reelected with 93 percent of the vote, there was a lack of critical opposition voices in the pre-election period, opposition political parties were unable to register, and two opposition party leaders were arrested on what appear to be spurious charges. Two unregistered political parties were unable to field presidential candidates due to legal or administrative issues.

International observers reported that Rwanda’s 2013 parliamentary elections also failed to meet standards for free and fair elections. While the elections were calm and well organized, there were numerous irregularities, including the presence of security officials in polling rooms, multiple voting, and local election officials filling out ballots in the absence of voters. Rwandan electoral officials also denied U.S. Embassy observers access to polling stations and vote tabulation centers, thereby making it impossible to verify the accuracy of the final vote count and official participation rate. Rwanda’s next presidential election is in 2017, and we are cautiously hopeful that this election will mark an improvement upon previous contests.

Our concerns about restrictions on press freedom, freedom of assembly, expression, and association extend beyond electoral processes. Most Rwandan news outlets follow party lines. Rwandan journalists self-censor their work, and some have fled the country out of fear of government harassment. The Rwandan government has also stepped up its use of a law amended in 2012 that allows security officials to monitor online communications.

During the period surrounding the 20-year genocide commemoration in spring 2014, the country’s few remaining independent journalists were increasingly targeted for harassment and arrest. This led the United States to issue a statement in June 2014 expressing deep concern about the arrest and disappearance of dozens of Rwandan citizens and credible reports that individual journalists were being threatened, and in some cases directly censored.

We are also deeply troubled by the succession of what appear to be politically motivated murders of prominent Rwandan exiles. This includes the December 2013 killing of former Rwandan government official Colonel Patrick Karegeya, who was found dead in a hotel room in South Africa. Months later, armed men raided the South African home of former Rwandan Army Chief of Staff Kayumba Nyamwasa, who had previously been targeted for assassination attempts. President Kagame’s 2014 statements about “consequences” for those who betray Rwanda has further heightened these concerns.

Also of deep concern are corpses that appeared in Lake Rweru, along the border between Rwanda and Burundi, between July and October in 2014. Fishermen reported seeing dozens of floating bodies, some bound and wrapped in sacks. Four bodies were recovered and buried near a village in Burundi’s Muyinga Province. Fishermen reported that on the nights of September 21 and 22, Rwandan marines attempted to exhume the bodies, allegedly to return them to Rwanda. Both Rwanda and Burundi called for a joint investigation into the identity and origin of the bodies. In December, Burundi’s minister of foreign affairs accepted an offer of forensic assistance funded by the United States and several other donor governments for an investigation led by the African Union. Rwandan officials stated that the government also supported a joint investigation, but no investigation has been conducted. The United States continues to press the African Union to move forward with an investigation into these killings and accountability for those responsible.

As a close partner with Rwanda on many global and regional issues, we have and will continue to maintain a close dialogue with the government on these concerns, while recognizing their strong policies and actions with respect to issues of concern, such as women’s rights, the rights of LGBTI persons, and access to health and education.

In closing, Rwanda is an important ally. It is a respected contributor to peacekeeping missions throughout the region, it has rebuilt itself from genocide, and it has achieved impressive development and economic gains. I have seen with my own eyes the remarkable progress that Rwanda has made. I believe there is a bright future ahead for its people, which is why Rwanda’s current human rights situation is so personally disappointing to me. Ensuring respect for freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and respect for the rule of law is essential for cementing, and building from these gains.

The United States will continue to urge Rwanda to respect the rights of all its citizens.

Thank you very much and I welcome your questions.

Monday, May 25, 2015

United States Calls for Peaceful Resolution to Crisis in Burundi

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 25, 2015

The United States strongly condemns the May 23 killing of the leader of the opposition party Union for Peace and Development (UPD), Zedi Feruzi, and his bodyguard. We also strongly condemn the May 22 grenade attack in a market that killed several people and wounded many more. These attacks only undermine ongoing efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to the current crisis through dialogue.

We call on all parties to immediately renounce the use of violence. We urge the Burundian government to conduct timely and credible investigations of the recent attacks to bring to justice those responsible and to take concrete steps to ensure the safety of political actors during the electoral process.

The United States supports the consultative political dialogue facilitated by the UN Special Envoy, Said Djinnit, and envoys from the African Union, the East African Community, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and we strongly urge all stakeholders to continue to participate in good faith in this dialogue to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis. We welcomed the May 18 communique by the ICGLR announcing a heads of state visit to Burundi, which we believe could contribute to facilitating this dialogue.

We call on the Burundian government to provide the political space needed for a peaceful and credible electoral process, including through respect for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression. In this regard, we urge the Burundian government to permit the immediate resumption of broadcasts by independent radio stations, end the use of the term “insurgents” to refer to peaceful protesters, and withdraw the proclamation by the Burundian National Security Council prohibiting future demonstrations.

The United States continues to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and is prepared to take additional measures against those who commit, incite or ‎promote violence or other human rights abuses and violations.

U. S. Issues Statement on Violence and Human Rights Violations in Mali

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 23, 2015

The United States condemns the ongoing violence in northern Mali, including reports of summary executions of civilians in Tin Hama, and other human rights abuses and violations. We call on all parties to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, recommit to applicable cease-fire agreements and begin implementation of the May 15 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. The United States reiterates its strong support for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and calls for the investigation of these alleged human rights violations, to ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

President Obama and Tunisia’s President Caid Essebsi Meet

President Obama and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi shake hands during a meeting at the White House. The U.S. announced Thursday that it will upgrade Tunisia’s ally status. | AP Photo

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 21, 2015

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT CAID ESSEBSI OF TUNISIA AFTER BILATERAL MEETING

Oval Office
11:40 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is a great pleasure to welcome back President Caid Essebsi to the Oval Office. We had the opportunity to meet early in the aftermath of the political transition that had begun in Tunisia. And it was very gratifying to hear about the excellent progress that’s been made in Tunisia’s transformation into an inclusive and functioning democracy.

It is important to recognize that the place where the Arab Spring began is a place where we have seen the most extraordinary progress in allowing all parties and all parts of the population, including women and minorities, participate fully in the civic and political life of the nation. And it bodes well for Tunisia’s future and for the future of its children. And I emphasized to the President that the United States is fully committed to working with Tunisia so that it can continue to build on this success.

The friendship between the United States and Tunisia dates back centuries. But at this critical time in world history, we think it’s very important for us to continue to expand the economic assistance that we’re providing so that ordinary Tunisians can feel the concrete benefits of a change to a more open and competitive economy; committed to continuing to work to expand the education scholarship and exchange programs that have already been established between our two countries, so that young Tunisians can continue to access the skills they need to get good jobs and compete in the international economy.

We discussed the importance of security and the recognition that given the instability in the region, it is important for us to continue to partner effectively in counterterrorism efforts, but also in our efforts to stabilize Libya and bring the parties together so that we don’t have a failed state and a power vacuum that ends up infecting the situation in Tunisia, as well.

And in recognition of the importance that we place on the security and diplomatic relationship with Tunisia, I indicated to the President my intention to designate Tunisia as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. And I committed that as Tunisia continues to embark on important structural reforms to the economy that we will not only provide short-term aid, but also try to provide the kind of bridge and support that’s necessary to complete those reforms and make sure that they’re effective and benefitting the people of Tunisia.

So, overall, this was an excellent discussion, but it was reflective of what had been ongoing consultations and a lot of work by our diplomatic and military and economic and intelligence teams during the course of this incredible transformation of Tunisia. And I want the President and the people of Tunisia to know that the United States believes in Tunisia, is invested in its success, and will work as a steady partner for years to come.

PRESIDENT ESSEBSI: (As interpreted.) I have taken to heart what Mr. President have kindly said. In this meeting, we have discussed all issues related to Tunisia-U.S. cooperation, in all fields. And I felt that there is the opportunity to continue this foothold to ensure the success of the democratic choice that Tunisia has opted for.

However important the milestone that Tunisia has reached in the democratic process, we are still in midway. We have a long way ahead of us. To reach the conclusion of the democratic system and the final consolidation of the system, there’s still a lot to be done.

The democratic process is always fragile and threatened by chaos, by parties that do not believe in democracy, that do not follow democratic policies and discourse, but also by our regional environment, which could represent a threat to the democratic process.

Fortunately, the Tunisian people are very much aware about the importance of the gains it has acquired and about protecting these gains and continuing to work with the U.S. We have a process of performance that is underway. We have achieved a milestone in these reforms. We are almost midway. We are committed to these reforms and within this year we are going to finalize all reforms that we need to implement. The objective is to reform the economy, but also to send an important message to the world, to investors, and to tell them that Tunisia is a favorable site for investment and for growth.

Mr. President Obama has underscored during our discussion his faith in Tunisia, his belief in Tunisia’s chances for success. We, too, in Tunisia have faith in the friendship of the U.S., and with the longstanding history and the friendship between our two countries. We are integrating a new phase, a new chapter in our bilateral relations, and we need the support of the U.S., and maybe the U.S. needs Tunisia, too, now.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. 

END
12:54 P.M. EDT

U.S. Condemns Escalating Violence in South Sudan


Condemning Escalating Violence in South Sudan

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 20, 2015

The United States condemns the intensified fighting and violence in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei states in South Sudan by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the armed opposition, and forces led by General Johnson Olony that have led to massive new displacements and had a devastating effect on civilians. We call on all armed groups to immediately halt offensive actions taken in contravention of the January 2014 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

Violations of international humanitarian norms, including the outright targeting of civilians already vulnerable to greater harm, especially women and children, and grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all sides are unacceptable. The international community will hold those who perpetrate such abuses and violations to account. We call on all sides to silence the guns immediately, permit the UN Mission in South Sudan to investigate the sites of all alleged human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and allow all humanitarian workers immediate, free and unobstructed access to conflicted-affected communities regardless of their locations.

The human, social, and economic costs of this war have been devastating and the long-suffering people of South Sudan will also bear the brunt of the potential long-term consequences of this escalating fighting. Any damage to South Sudan’s oil infrastructure is an additional life-long wound to the people and jeopardizes South Sudan’s development and rebuilding. These resources belong to all South Sudanese people and the needs of the nation should be prioritized over the violent intentions of a few.

We will continue to work for a better future for all South Sudanese citizens and condemn those that intentionally jeopardize their collective future.

U.S. Delegation to Attend Inauguration of New Nigerian President

President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2015

President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Nigeria to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Nigeria to attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015.

The Honorable John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, will lead the delegation. Other members of the delegation will be announced at a future date.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

U.S. Issues Statement on Mali

Press Statement
Jeff Rathke
Director, Office of Press Relations
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 15, 2015

The United States welcomes the formal commitments taken yesterday in Algiers and today in Bamako to advance lasting peace and reconciliation in Mali. We urge all Malian parties to sign the Accord to underscore their concrete commitment to peace and to continue to engage constructively to implement the Accord.

We commend the Government of Mali for its commitment to the peace process and its openness to dialogue. We also thank the Government of Algeria for the leading mediation role it has played in the peace process as well as the efforts made by the International Mediation Team.

We are deeply concerned by ongoing reports of fighting, and we call on all parties to respect the existing cease-fire agreements and commit to resolving differences through dialogue.

The United States remains committed to helping the Malian people as they work to achieve a durable peace. We reiterate our support to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and its efforts to assist the Malian people to consolidate peace.

United States Calls for Calm and Restraint in Burundi

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 13, 2015

The United States is deeply concerned by today’s developments in Burundi. We call on all parties to immediately end the violence, to exercise restraint, and above all to prioritize peace in Burundi. We support East African Community leaders’ call today for peaceful, democratic elections in line with Burundi’s electoral laws and the spirit of the Arusha Agreement.

We urge all stakeholders to take the steps necessary to create the conditions required for peaceful, timely, credible and transparent elections, and to respect the rule of law, including those provisions of Burundian law regarding civilian rule.

The Arusha Agreement was about ending years of violence and civil war in Burundi. It is essential for all Burundians – both military and civilian – to uphold the spirit of this agreement and reject violence. The United States will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely, and will, as appropriate, refuse U.S. visas to those who participate in, plan, or order violence against the civilian population.

U.S. Issues Statement on South Sudan



South Sudan: New Reports of Fighting in Northern State of Unity

Press Statement
Jeff Rathke
Acting Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 12, 2015

The United States is deeply concerned by new reports of heavy fighting in northern state of Unity following a Government offensive against Opposition forces. We remind all parties that renewed fighting is in direct contravention of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in 2014.

In addition, we are deeply disturbed by credible reports of grave human rights abuses against civilians in the areas around Mayom and south of Bentiu. We call on the government to allow protection actors to inspect sites where violations are alleged to have occurred, to include Nhialdiu, Wathjak, and Nimni. Attacks on civilians and actions which deepen and prolong the suffering of ordinary South Sudanese are unacceptable. Those who threaten the peace in South Sudan or violate international humanitarian law must be held accountable.

We are also deeply concerned about reports of widespread displacement and of the denial of access for humanitarian actors and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to reach civilian populations in the area, leaving hundreds of thousands without life-saving assistance. This fighting has caused UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations to evacuate staff from the area. The absence of UN and other humanitarian actors will greatly reduce the delivery of life-saving aid to vulnerable populations.

We renew our call for the Government and Opposition to silence the guns and to end the suffering of the people of South Sudan immediately.

U.S. Issues Statement on the Situation in the Central African Republic



Situation in the Central African Republic – Completion of the Bangui Forum

Press Statement
Jeff Rathke
Acting Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 11, 2015

The United States warmly congratulates the people of the Central African Republic on the successful conclusion of the Bangui Forum. Hundreds of Central Africans from across the country and from all walks of life participated in this historic event, and many more, including diaspora and refugee populations, stayed engaged through live media coverage and conversations in their homes and communities.

The United States welcomes the signature by armed groups and the transitional government of an accord on disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and repatriation of combatants and we applaud this commitment to peace. During the Forum, the people of the Central African Republic expressed their desire for an end to conflict and to advance national reconciliation. By signing this accord, the government and armed groups have demonstrated that they hear the overwhelming majority of Central African voices in favor of a peaceful political transition. We call on the signatories to work without delay and in coordination with international partners to ensure its full implementation.

We further welcome the signature by armed groups of an agreement to halt the recruitment of child soldiers and to release all child soldiers currently in their ranks and children associated with the conflict. This agreement is a hopeful sign for the children of the Central African Republic, who have too long suffered terribly in this conflict. The United States calls on all armed groups to follow through on these commitments without delay.

The United States will continue to stand with the people and transitional leadership of the Central African Republic as they advance this vibrant national conversation and translate into action the ‎recommendations of the Bangui Forum for a better future for the country and its people.

Asst. Sec. Linda Thomas-Greenfield Attends EAC Meeting on Burundi


Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 11, 2015

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield is traveling to Tanzania, May 11–14, for the East African Community (EAC) emergency ministerial on the situation in Burundi. The United States commends the EAC for its leadership and engagement on Burundi.

In Dar-es-Salaam, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield will participate in meetings on the sidelines of the EAC ministerial in order to express U.S. concern about the situation in Burundi as well as U.S. support for the Arusha Agreement and political dialogue among all parties to ensure peaceful, credible and inclusive elections in Burundi.

For further information, please visit http://www.state.gov/p/af or follow @StateAfrica on Twitter.


U.S. Issues Statement on Liberia



THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2015

Statement by the Press Secretary on Liberia

Today, the Republic of Liberia reached the important milestone of 42 days without reporting a new Ebola case, and we are pleased the World Health Organization was able to declare the end of the country’s current outbreak. We congratulate the people of Liberia on reaching this important marker, and once again pledge our commitment to ending the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and helping to rebuild Liberia and other affected nations. As President Obama said when Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the White House last month, “We’re proud to partner with you and we intend to see this through until the job is done.” While this milestone is important, the world must not forget that the Ebola outbreak still persists in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea. We must not let down our guard until the entire region reaches and stays at zero Ebola cases. And we must all work together to strengthen capacity around the world to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to outbreaks before they become epidemics.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

NSA Advisor Susan Rice Meets Ugandan President Museveni

Photo: PHOTO/PPU – New Vision
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2015

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Meeting with Ugandan President Museveni

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni met today in New York City to exchange views on regional developments. They discussed the devastating humanitarian as well as regional economic costs of continued conflict in South Sudan. They agreed on the need for the international community and South Sudan’s regional partners to work quickly to achieve peace in the face of the intransigence of the country’s leaders. Ambassador Rice reiterated the United States’ deep concern over the increasing level of conflict in Sudan, specifically the continued conflict in Darfur and the vicious bombing of civilians in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. Additionally, they reaffirmed a shared commitment to advancing regional efforts to defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army and continuing cooperation to support the vital work of the African Union Mission in Somalia. Finally, they discussed the important cooperation between the United States and Uganda to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism in the region.

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United States Provides Support for Justice and Accountability in South Sudan

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Acting Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 5, 2015

Secretary Kerry announced yesterday that the United States plans to provide $5 million to promote justice and accountability in South Sudan, pending Congressional approval. Many South Sudanese have long urged that those responsible for the crimes that have been committed in South Sudan during the current, tragic conflict must be held accountable in order to break the cycle of violence and revenge and build a stable, lasting peace.

These funds will support a credible, impartial, and effective justice mechanism, such as a hybrid court, to hold perpetrators of violence in South Sudan to account. Furthermore, the funding will build the capacity of South Sudanese civil society to document human rights violations, work that is critical to understanding events on the ground and that can serve as a starting point for justice and reconciliation efforts.

The funds are in addition to ongoing U.S. support for local reconciliation efforts and the more than $1 billion that the United States has contributed to assist humanitarian relief since the start of the crisis in December 2013.

The United States continues to stand with the people of South Sudan and will not tolerate impunity for human rights abuses, but will continue to push for peace. We urge others to join us in committing funds to support justice, reconciliation and healing in South Sudan.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sec. Kerry and Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf Meet

Secretary Kerry and Djiboutian Foreign Minister Youssouf Hold a News Conference at the Presidential Palace in Djibouti
Photo: State Department

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Presidential Palace
Djibouti, Djibouti
May 6, 2015

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, we are happy and proud to welcome in Djibouti Secretary of State John Kerry and his delegation. This is a historical visit which reflects the excellent relationships between Djibouti and the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry met this morning young Djiboutians as part of the YALI program, the Young African Leaders Initiative, which was launched by His Excellency President Obama. This meeting took place at the Salman Mosque. The exchanges between the Secretary of State and the young Djiboutians about the future of the country – these discussions were very fruitful. We talked about tolerance, coexistence.

And the Secretary of State also had a lengthy meeting with President Guelleh. The discussions pertained to bilateral relationships as well as the various crises in the region, notably Yemen and Somalia.

I will switch to English.

Mr. Secretary General, Djibouti is a good and loyal friend and a good partner to the United States, and it will remain so, given the daunting challenges our two nations are faced with in terms of peace and security. We will continue to fight terrorism together and promote tolerance and coexistence. Djibouti values the tremendous job done by the American forces in the Combined Joint Task Force, and I would remiss to my duty if I don’t underscore that the Camp Lemonnier provides lots of job opportunities to the young Djiboutians.

Mr. Secretary, we welcome you again and we are very sorry for the hot weather. (Laughter.) Next time you come, we will ask heaven to be more merciful. You have the floor, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: (Laughter.) Well, Mr. Minister, don’t – I actually – we had a very tough winter this year, and particularly in Boston, so I don’t mind the weather at all. (Laughter.) I’m very happy to be warm.
Thank you. Excuse me. Thank you so much for a very generous welcome. Je vous remercie beaocoup. You and the president – I appreciate enormously the chance to be able to visit Djibouti. This is my first visit, not just as Secretary of State, but my first time ever. And so I really am appreciative of the opportunity to be here, and I want to thank President Guelleh and you, Foreign Minister Youssouf. Thank you very much for your generous welcome.

A year ago, President Obama and President Guelleh announced the annual U.S.-Djibouti Binational Forum, and we held the initial round of that this year in Washington. We had a very fruitful conversation there laying out a lot of the agenda. We’re following up on that agenda, I must say, speedily and effectively. And I’m pleased to be here now to follow up on the discussions and to be able to talk to the president himself about our relationship.

The United States and Djibouti, plain and simply are friends, and we are working together in common interest on any number of things – obviously security, but well beyond security too. We just talked about a new American school that hopefully will be able to open here shortly. There are other initiatives on the economy and elsewhere. Our discussions today really reflected that we have a lot to talk about, but also things that we can learn about. I will say a word about that in a minute.

Importantly, Djibouti has become a regional base for science, for education, for health, and for the environment. Djibouti is leaning forward on climate change and on new energy sources. In fact, the Government of Djibouti and the Minister of Higher Education and Research Nabil are hosting a conference this week on environmental risk and opportunities. And I was pleased to learn about the partnerships that the local institutions are forging with American universities in order to tackle the threat of climate change.

Earlier this morning, I was privileged, as the minister mentioned, to visit the Salman Mosque and to meet with a number of young students, men and women, who are the future of Djibouti and the future of our relationship. This part of the world has an incredibly rich culture, in part because of its strategic location, and that is a great source of prosperity. But also, it can put it into the center of conflict and turbulence, as we have seen most recently with the events in Yemen. So it matters a great deal that the United States and Djibouti are able to cooperate on the basis of both mutual respect, but also mutual interest, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

One of the issues that we discussed today very briefly, because so much has happened in the positive – and I want to mention it – is piracy. Since 2007, Djibouti has been an essential partner, vital partner, in the international counter-piracy efforts. And that is important because as many of you remember, just a few years ago it seemed like the pirates were winning. At one point in 2011, pirates were holding some 32 merchant ships captive along with 736 hostages. It was a strange confrontation with history in a way, that at this moment in the 21st century, with all of our capacity and all of our communication, a major sea lane was in jeopardy because of pirates. And obviously, we made a fundamental decision it was unacceptable, it had to change.

With Djibouti’s cooperation, the world community was able to get itself together and strike back. Today, pirates hold no seaworthy ships in this region – zero – and only a small number of hostages, and we hope that before long, that too will be zero. What it proves is that we do have mutual interests where we can find a capacity to be able to cooperate and make a difference. And it goes to show that international teamwork has an ability to successfully meet some of the challenges that we see in the region.

The foreign minister and I also discussed our shared efforts to advance peace and stability in Somalia. And President Guelleh had, through his own connections and his own experience and his own concerns about Somalia and the commitment of Djibouti to be making a difference in Somalia, the president had some, I think, very relevant, important advice and counsel with respect to the road ahead. We agreed that it is critical for government to – the government in Mogadishu to finalize its constitution, hold democratic elections next year, and integrate – particularly important – integrate forces from Somalia’s regions into its national army. And the President importantly pointed out that having a national army which fully represents all of the different interests and people of Somalia will be critical to its ability to be able to have successful elections and move on to the future.

The United States Government recognizes – and I underscore that today both with my presence and what I’m saying – that the Government of Djibouti has made a very important contribution to this effort, and has also committed peacekeeping battalions – two of them – to AMISOM and has hosted the Italian Carabinieri, who train Somalia’s national police. The United States is going to continue to consult with Djibouti as we consider the provisions of broader security assistance to Somalia. And today, I say thank you to Djibouti for its contribution to this important global effort.

We’re also working with Djibouti to assist many thousands of refugees who have fled violence in the region. Djibouti has provided safe haven for many years to Somali refugees, and now, it is providing it to those seeking refuge from Yemen. We – excuse me – we recently provided $2 million to support the UNHCR’s operations in Djibouti alone, along with new support for humanitarian assistance in Yemen itself, where millions of vulnerable people urgently need help. And today, I am pleased to announce that the United States is providing another $68 million in humanitarian aid for Yemen. This contribution will include food, water, shelter and other necessities, and it will support vital work of the World Food Program, the UN High Commission for Refugees, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration, and other international and nongovernmental organizations that are struggling to deliver aid in Yemen itself, on the ground.

In addition to welcoming Yemeni refugees, Djibouti has also helped to ensure the safe passage of thousands of evacuees from more than 60 nations, including American citizens. Our embassy here, ably led by Ambassador Tom Kelly, has helped hundreds of people to be able to secure medical care, temporary lodging, and the documentation that they need to be able to return home. And I want to thank everybody in our consular division in our embassy for their extraordinary work. The protection of American citizens abroad is a top priority, obviously, always. And we’re going to continue to do everything we can possible to be able to ensure their safety. But we are particularly grateful – we could not be doing what we’re doing today without the help of Djibouti.

We’re working with Djibouti on another challenge, which is helping the people of this country to generate a healthier and more dynamic national economy. That’s why we’re partnering with the government here on a new workforce development project that will help match the training of young people to the needs of today’s job market. During my conversation this morning with the youth leaders, I listened to each of them as they expressed their ambitions for the future, their hopes to learn English, to go to college, to university, to be able to find a job, to help to make a contribution to Djibouti. And what we, above all, want to do is prevent any young person from falling victim to the preying of violent extremists and people who offer a dead end instead of all of the possibilities of education and opportunity and work.

So I thought it was a valuable discussion, as Foreign Minister Youssouf suggested. It wasn’t as long as I would have enjoyed to hear from every single one of them. But I will share with President Obama, who has inaugurated this program called YALI, the Young African Leaders Initiative. And several of the people who were there this morning were either people who attended last year’s session in Washington of YALI or will come this summer. And I know in every case that I have met one of these exciting leaders from all over Africa, they are already fresh out of the university or in university or in early years of working, demonstrating remarkable leadership. They are the future leaders of the continent, and I have said many times, I say it again: I believe the history of this century is going to be defined by the remarkable growth and development of Africa.

I will also be reporting to the President that the friendship between the United States and Djibouti is healthy and it is strong, and we are very thankful to our hosts for their commitment to host our facility at Camp Lemonnier, where we try hard to be good guests. And I’m personally grateful always for the working relationship I have with Foreign Minister Youssouf, and very grateful for the warm welcome and hospitality here in Djibouti today.

With that, we’d be delighted, I’m sure, to take a couple questions.

MS HARF: Great. The first question is from Hidaya of RTV. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello, Mr. Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry. My name is Hidaya Mohammed from RTD Radio and Television Broadcasting News Djibouti. So as you know, the international community deploys efforts –

SECRETARY KERRY: Hold the mike up to you there so I can –

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Maybe it’s not even working.

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Sorry. As you know, the international community deploys major efforts in order to stop the terrorism, and the result are not (inaudible). So my question is: Is it a strategic problem, and can you explain this failure?

SECRETARY KERRY: This – try to – on which human?

QUESTION: The – this (inaudible) is progressing in Africa, as you know –

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: Terrorism.

QUESTION: Counterterrorism.

SECRETARY KERRY: Terrorism. Counterterrorism.

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: Terrorism, yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah, terrorism.

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah. Well, the rise of violent extremism is something that has challenged all of us in the world. Extremism and violence and terrorism is not new to this generation, but it really began to burst on the scene as a strategy by some people during probably the 1960s and ’70s, and then has grown but reached an altogether unfathomable, incomprehensible level of depravity and nihilism with the attacks that took place in 2001 in September in New York, and then subsequently in various other parts of the world, or during that period of time, certainly, other parts of the world.

Most recently with the rise of Daesh and al-Shabaab, al-Nusrah, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and various other entities, people have regrettably found a way to exploit a great religion and to present it in a completely false manner. And they take advantage of young people particularly, and particularly those who don’t have jobs, don’t have opportunities, people who are poor, and twist their minds, indoctrinate them, and send them on missions of death and terror to literally destroy – not to build, not to provide a future. I don’t hear any terrorist group in the world talking about building schools or introducing people to literature or building a world of tolerance and of opportunity. All you hear them talking about is how other people have to live the way they order them to, and if they don’t, they’ll kill them. And Daesh particularly has proven its readiness to take the lives of other people in the most grotesque public fashion, simply because those people are part of a different religion, part of a different belief, or aren’t them.

So we have to, all of us in positions of responsibility, do everything in our power to reach out to more people, to show them the utter depravity of one road versus the benefits of saying no and taking a difficult road to school, to education, to a job, to building community, to living by rule of law, and by understanding fully what the real nature of a particular religion or philosophy or ideology is.

Djibouti and its leadership understand this, and they are pushing back against this kind of extremist effort, as are all – every country in the region. There isn’t one country here – thank you, sir, very much – there isn’t one country here in the region that I know of as a country that supports Daesh. They’re all opposed to their activities.

And so Djibouti, thankfully, is today at the forefront of our global efforts against terrorism. Ever since September of 2001, Djibouti has fully cooperated with us on this issue, they’ve provided military access to Camp Lemmonier, they have welcomed U.S. counterterrorism training, and because of its strategic location and its proximity to areas of concern, the threat that it faces from al-Shabaab extremists on its own border or people attacking its border, Djibouti is a frontline state in the efforts to stand up against terrorism.

And we will continue to work very closely with the Djiboutian Government on counterterrorism strategies for all of east Africa, for the Arabian Peninsula, as part of our effort to try to offer the kinds of young people I met today at the Salman Mosque the future that they want so much. And we’re grateful to Djibouti for hosting the only military presence in Africa – about 4,500 U.S. military-contracted personnel are on the ground here, and we’re very grateful for this relationship and for what it means, I think, in answer to your question about the pushback against terrorism.

In the end, the victory will not be defined through the military component; it will be defined through the victory of young people over this who embrace a future defined by education, by rule of law, by job opportunities, by inclusivity, by tolerance, and by the real values and principles taught in every major religion and philosophy in the world, which is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Love your brother as yourself,” and so forth. That’s the golden rule, and that’s exactly what is really at the core of all of our efforts.

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: (Via interpreter) If I can say something to answer that question, to complement Secretary of State John Kerry’s answer, it’s that we must state loud and clear that religions themselves are not the source of terrorism, whichever religion. I’m not talking only about Islam. The source of terrorism, its expansion, its escalation come from the fact that there are states that have weak institutions or there are states that have failed to ensure security on their national territory. In Afghanistan, when the state failed, we saw what happened in terms of terrorist acts in New York – 9/11 – which was mentioned by the Secretary. In Somalia, when you had a failed state, we saw what the Shabaab were capable of doing.

Today, in Libya, we talk about al-Nusrah and other groups because the state no longer exists. Syria is in the same type of situation. These states whose institutions have collapsed and which today are experiencing a situation of security void are a fertile ground and the main source of the escalation and development of terrorist activities and terrorists in general. This is a point that I wish to underscore with respect to this question that you asked.

MS HARF: Great. Our next question’s from Lesley Wroughton of Reuters. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Excuse me. I’m sorry, Mr. Secretary. You’ve just pledged additional aid for Yemen, yet today humanitarian organizations said they were unable to operate in Yemen because they’ve run out of fuel. Is it time for that pause so that humanitarian efforts can be scaled up?

Also, looking at Yemen, the Saudi campaign has dialed back on these bombardments, yet its failed to make massive changes on the ground. The Houthi still are entrenched in areas that they’ve taken up. Is it perhaps time to relook at this campaign and your support for it?

Mr. Foreign Minister, Djibouti has played a significant role in bringing it – in taking in foreigners as they’ve evacuated Yemen. What other assistance have you asked from the United States as you deal with increased refugees from this conflict?

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: If I may start?

SECRETARY KERRY: You go ahead. Yeah, go ahead.

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: Actually, we have been dealing with this influx of refugees from Yemen for the past three months – or two months, to be more exactly – by ourselves. I mean that the Government of Djibouti national solidary, social NGOs, communities have been deploying all kind of efforts to assist these people. Of course, so far we have evacuated 12,000 refugees from Yemen. Most of them were not Yemenis. They were Americans, Chinese, Indians, and many other nationalities. We held them at the port, at the airport. We evacuated them to gathering centers sometimes, sometimes to hotels. And we facilitated their evacuation and repatriation to their homeland.

We still have a few thousands of Yemenis in Djibouti. Some of them and their families in the capital. Around 1,000 are located in a region called Obock. We don’t have the facilities to house them there, but we opened a stadium for them. We opened other facilities belonging to private associations. We created a refugee camp there, but it is so hot and the weather is becoming very, very tough. So they are requesting to be removed or moved from that place to Holhol which is in the southern part of the country where the climate is a little bit more acceptable in a way.

But as we all know, the response of the international community takes time. We have been – we launched the call, the appeal to the international community so that the assistance can flow in, but so far we are still expecting that response. But anyway, the overall conditions of the refugees are quite satisfactory. We have a number of medical teams on the spot, some coming from NGOs. Doctors Without Borders, Arab NGOs, and others are trying to help to cover the medical needs of the refugees. And the Djiboutian Government (inaudible) Djiboutian people provides for the food and all other stuffs.

But the – I mean, the offer or the proposal of increasing the assistance to the refugees by the Secretary of State is a good omen. It is indeed a good omen because these people are in need for everything – everything. And we think that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also announced something like $273 million for the refugees and the Yemenis in general, and this money will come also as an omen and they will certainly take advantage of that. But I suppose and I assume that the needs are higher than that, and we hope that there will be, as the United States proposed, a humanitarian pause in the conflict so that corridors could be opened and so that this assistance could reach the most in need in this neighborly country. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: So let me emphasize we are deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation that is unfolding in Yemen – shortages of food, shortages of fuel, shortages of medicine. The situation is getting more dire by the day, and we’re deeply concerned about that. And we have urged all sides, anybody involved, to comply with humanitarian law and to take every precaution to keep civilians out of the line of fire, out of harm’s way, as well as to provide the opportunity for humanitarian assistance to be able to be delivered. And several weeks ago we urged the parties to engage in a pause in order to be able to deliver aid. The Saudis, to their credit, immediately announced that they were shifting out of one phase and into a phase for political resolution as well as humanitarian delivery, but that they would respond if Houthi continued to attack; and regrettably, they did. And so, unfortunately, conflict has continued.

Just a day or so ago, the Saudi foreign minister announced their consideration of the need for this humanitarian pause. I spoke with him yesterday. I will be there in Saudi Arabia tonight. We will be discussing the nature of the pause and how it might be implemented, but I am convinced of their desire to implement a pause. And in my conversation yesterday with another foreign minister from another country, there was an indication that others – the Houthi might be willing to engage in a pause. So I think this would be welcome news for the world if it were able to be effected in a way that doesn’t see people try to take advantage of it and either secure more territory or attack people participating in a legitimate pause.

So we hope that the coalition will join in working with the UN and the rest of the global community in order to find a way to deliver aid through the existing aid organizations that have the ability to make sure this is delivered in a way that it’s not contributing to the conflict or somehow being abused or exploited. And hopefully in the next days this is something that can take place.

The Saudis have also – or not the Saudis. President Hadi has called for a conference that he would like to see take place. And we’re certainly supportive of any efforts to have a dialogue, but we also believe it is very important to move to the UN venue as soon as possible because there is no military solution to this crisis. It’s going to have to be a negotiated political process that rebuilds a government and rebuilds Yemen itself. And I think we need to find a way to get to that. But for the time being, the immediate crisis is the humanitarian one, and I hope that very quickly the structure can be put together which will enable humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the people who desperately need it.

MS HARF: Thank you all very much.

###

Secretary Kerry Visits Salman Mosque in Djibouti

Secretary Kerry Speaks With Local Islamic Youth at the Salman Mosque in Djibouti
Photo: State Department

Remarks at Salman Mosque

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Salman Mosque
Djibouti, Djibouti
May 6, 2015

Assalamu alaikum. (In French.) I said I would speak in English because there are part of the English-speaking program – some of them. Some of these young people who are here are part of the YALI program. I’ll say more about that in a minute.

Let me begin by thanking Minister Youssouf. Thank you so much for your welcome. Minister Aden, thank you for your welcome. Imam Maalim, thank you very much for bringing us into this holy place and for allowing us to have this meeting here. And thank you, Minister Aden, for your message about Islam and about tolerance and love, because that’s what the world needs. And it’s a privilege for me to be able to come here to Djibouti in the first visit, I think, by a Secretary of State, and I’m very honored to be here. Ambassador Kelly, thank you for your job and for helping to welcome so many people here in these last days, and difficultly.

Let me just say – I want to speak to the young people here for a minute if I can. First of all, I really appreciate your taking time to come here. It’s enormously welcoming to me. And more importantly, it’s really a statement about your commitment to your country and to the future. Several of you are YALI members – Young African Leaders Initiative – which is a program that President Obama started in order to bring people who are already demonstrating great leadership and scholarship and interest in civic affairs, and to come to Washington. Last year we had an incredibly exciting meeting; you were there, and I met – you were there too. We had a wonderful, energetic meeting. The President met. And all of you come back and engage in your community in the most wonderful way. You are, all of you, going to be the future leaders, whether it’s political or in business or in the community, and that’s exactly what YALI is supposed to do: help people to see the possibilities of building the future.

Djibouti is making a very significant contribution to the alternative paths of being engaged, of helping to provide security. Your president is involved in helping to quiet things in Somalia, helping to push back against extremism, and to provide economic opportunity for the people of this country.

So I’m really happy to be here. I don’t want to make a long speech. I’d really rather hear from you, if we have a moment. But it’s a privilege to meet with the future leaders. And we’re impressed by your English; whoever’s teaching you is doing a very, very good job. And I’m really grateful to you for taking a moment to come and share some thoughts with me this morning.

(In French.) And I look forward over the day today to learning more about Djibouti and to strengthening the relationship between our countries.

God bless.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Secretary Kerry Travels to Mogadishu, Somalia

Secretary Kerry Delivers a Statement to the U.S. and Somali Media in Mogadishu
Photo: State Department

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Acting Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 5, 2015

On May 5, Secretary Kerry landed in Mogadishu, Somalia to reinforce the United States commitment to supporting Somalia’s ongoing transition to a peaceful democracy. In his meetings with federal and regional government officials, he will discuss security cooperation and Somalia’s progress towards meeting its reform and development benchmarks in view of its 2016 elections. He will also meet with civil society leaders to discuss the importance of a vibrant NGO sector and thank African Union troops for their role in stabilizing Somalia. This is the first ever Secretary of State visit to Somalia.


Remarks in Mogadishu, Somalia

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Mogadishu, Somalia
May 5, 2015

I’m very, very pleased to be able to come to Somalia today. It was important to be able to meet face to face with President Hassan Sheikh and with Prime Minister Sharmarke and regional leaders and with a range of civil society representatives. As everybody knows, more than 20 years ago, the United States was forced to pull back from this country. And now we’re returning in collaboration with our international community and with high hopes mixed, obviously, with ongoing concerns.

My brief visit confirms what diplomats have been telling me: The people here are both resilient and determined to reclaim their future from the terrorists and the militias who’ve been attempting to steal it. Over the past quarter century, Somalis have known immense suffering from violence, from criminals, from sectarian strife, from dire shortages of food, and from an inability to remain safely within their villages and their homes. In Kenya yesterday, I spoke through an internet link with refugees in Dadaab who had fled their homes for protection from the persecution and from the violence, from the war. I met Somalis who were 15, 18, 20 years old who had never lived anywhere except in a refugee camp; this in an era of unprecedented globalization and opportunity.

So I’m here today because Somalia is making progress in its mission to turn things around. Three years have passed since a new provisional constitution was adopted and a parliament was sworn in. With help from AMISOM, the UN mission here, the United Nations has contributed significantly to this progress. Somali forces have pushed al-Shabaab out of major population centers. A determined international effort has put virtually all of Somalia’s pirates out of business. New life has returned to the streets of Mogadishu, and fresh hope to the people of all the country. I want to acknowledge particularly the remarkable commitment and sacrifice of the nations and countries that make up a part of AMISOM, particularly Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, and previously Sierra Leone. It is really a great statement about the leadership of African nations stepping up to deal with African problems.

The question now is how quickly and completely the next steps of governing will be taken. The Somali Government has put forward a blueprint for the country’s development as a unified and federal state. It is working with the new regional administration to enhance stability and sow the seeds of prosperity in every part of Somalia. That includes finding the right balance of authority and responsibility between the national, the regional, and the local levels. And we look forward to seeing progress soon on an integration process between the regional forces into the Somali National Army so that we can broaden our security assistance to those forces.

The government is also working towards finalizing and holding democratic elections in 2016. The president, the prime minister, and the regional leaders affirmed to me today that they are committed to making progress on these issues and ensuring that there is a broad consensus on exactly how the constitutional review and the elections are going to proceed. And in addition, he also committed to me today that the mandate will not be extended beyond 2016, that the government will keep the schedule of Vision 2016 and avoid delays, that they will appoint the members of the national independent electoral commission and the boundaries and federation commission by next week. He committed that they will work with parliament to pass the political parties law by next month, and committed to move forward with the integration of the National Army. So I am confident that the leaders came together today from the regions and the federal government to affirm solidly their determination to work cooperatively with the international community and to move the reform process of governance of Somalia forward.

We all have a stake in what happens here in Somalia. The world cannot afford to have places on the map that are essentially ungoverned. We learned in 2001 what happens when that is the case, and we have seen on a continued basis with splinter groups how they are determined to try to do injury to innocent people and to whole nations by operating out of ungoverned spaces. And so Somalia’s return to effective government is an historic opportunity for everybody to push back against extremism and to empower people in a whole country to be able to live the promise of their nation.

In recognition of the progress made and the promise to come, I’m pleased to announce that the United States will begin the process of establishing the premises for a diplomatic mission in Mogadishu. And while we do not yet have a fixed timeline for reopening the embassy, we are immediately beginning the process of upgrading our diplomatic representation. And I look forward, as does the President, to the day when both the United States and Somalia have full-fledged missions in each other’s capital city again. And I look forward as well to the time when we can say, and all the world will be able to see and to measure, that this country is fully united, combining regional strengths with national purpose, able to welcome its refugees home, and secure in a new Somalia that occupies an honored place on the regional and global stage for generations to come.

That is a job, in the end, that only Somalis can accomplish. But together with many other international partners, the United States is prepared to do what we can to help bring Somalia the peace and prosperity and security and the future that the people of Somalia want and that they deserve.

Thank you.

U.S. Issues Statement on Togo’s Presidential Elections

Press Statement
Jeff Rathke
Acting Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
May 4, 2015

The United States congratulates the people of Togo on exercising their democratic rights peacefully during the presidential elections. We congratulate President Faure Gnassingbé on his re-election and we echo the preliminary statements of the international observer missions from ECOWAS, the African Union, the Organization of the Francophonie, and the Gorée Institute that the election was free and transparent. We urge the candidates and political parties to respect the outcome of the elections – which reflects the will of Togolese citizens – and to resolve any outstanding differences or concerns peacefully in accord with Togo’s established electoral laws. The United States looks forward to continuing to work with President Gnassingbé to strengthen Togo’s democracy and build a prosperous nation for the Togolese people.

U.S. Participates in South Africa Freedom Day


Remarks for South Africa Freedom Day

Remarks
David H. Thorne
Senior Advisor to the Secretary
Embassy of the United States
Pretoria, South Africa
April 30, 2015

As prepared

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I extend heartfelt congratulations to you and all the people of the Republic of South Africa as you celebrate your Freedom Day.

I appreciate the gracious invitation to be your Guest of Honor this year.

Ambassador Mahlangu, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and in the words of our South African colleagues, all protocols observed.

As we celebrate with you today, we reflect back 21 years to that historic election on April 27, 1994, one filled with tremendous hope, goodwill, and promise for a better future.

It is with an eye to that future – a shared, bright future – that we work together to strengthen the relationship between our nations. It is a relationship built on the shared values of democracy, justice, equality, and the fundamental rights of all people.

Our partnership is strong and spans a wide breadth of shared priorities. We share goals of expanding economic prosperity–especially within Africa–enhancing peace and security, and strengthening democracy and opportunities for all. South Africa continues to play a pivotal role in achieving and maintaining peace, stability, and security across Africa and globally.

We are proud of our collaboration on health issues, and have invested nearly $5 billion to fight HIV/AIDS under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in South Africa.

The success of the program ultimately lies in its sustainability; in the coming years, South Africa will be the first country in Africa to fully manage its HIV/AIDS care and treatment program.

The United States and South Africa enjoy a robust economic relationship, with over $21 billion in two-way trade annually and more than 600 American companies operating in South Africa, employing thousands of South African citizens. We are excited to see SASOL, a South African energy company, begin a major investment in the state of Louisiana. This demonstrates the maturity of our economic relationship, and we look forward to more South African firms investing in the United States just as U.S. companies have invested in South Africa.

It is not only the large companies that fuel our economies, but in fact it is the small and medium-sized enterprises that drive growth and provide jobs. It is as true in the United States as it is in South Africa.

We have shown our determination to usher in a new era of shared prosperity in Africa through our most generous unilateral trade preference program, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

We are very happy that South Africa has been a leader in taking advantage of AGOA, with automobile makers, fruit farmers, and wine producers directly benefitting from increased exports to the United States. In 2014, exports to the United States totaled $8.3 billion, none of which paid duties thanks to the preferential treatment afforded by the United States, making your products more competitive and creating thousands of jobs for South Africans.

But, as we have seen recently in the U.S. Congress, there is a clear sense that we need to look beyond AGOA to a more reciprocal and balanced trade relationship. South Africa has recently taken this step with Europe, and it is time for South Africa to move forward with the United States.

President Obama has stressed the need to develop a real partnership with Africa, and we look to South Africa to be a leader here, as you have been under AGOA.

We are also very interested in helping South Africa create the best possible investment climate that will attract the foreign investment it needs to achieve its development goals. Breaking down barriers to trade and investment can clearly benefit both of our nations.

American firms already generate roughly ten percent of South Africa’s GDP every year, and we see significant potential to increase that contribution, creating the same kind of shared prosperity that SASOL’s investment in Louisiana represents.

As we deepen economic ties and proactively plan for life beyond AGOA with Africa as a whole, we hope South Africa will remain one of the countries leading the continent’s economic growth and we encourage additional U.S. investment and the jobs, training, and economic freedom that such investment generates. We will continue to stand alongside you, learn with you, and partner with you.

We are committed to continuing to deepen the U.S.-South Africa partnership to usher in a bright future, one where prosperity and opportunity abound. We also want to continue to partner with you to amplify messages of tolerance and inclusivity.

Mr. Ambassador, it is my great pleasure to convey Secretary Kerry’s congratulations to you on your celebration of Freedom Day. We look forward to continuing to work together to further strengthen and expand our bilateral relationship.

Thank you very much for your invitation and allowing me to celebrate this very special day with you.

Secretary Kerry Attends Wreath-Laying Ceremony in Kenya

Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks at a Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the August 7 Memorial Park in Nairobi
Photo: State Department
Remarks at Wreath-Laying Ceremony
August 7 Memorial Park
Nairobi, Kenya
May 4, 2015

Rukia, thank you very, very much, not just for the welcome and my introduction and your words, but thank you for your amazing example, for your extraordinary courage, and thank you for still being part of this great family. We really appreciate it. Everybody here has such respect for your journey personally, and we’re grateful to you. Thank you.

Ambassador Godec, Mr. Kiragu, Ms. Selebwa, friends, members of the State Department and the embassy staff here, and those of you who were here on that terrible day in 1998 or who lost loved ones who were here, I am very, very honored to come to this beautiful Memorial Park and to visit with you in what is really hallowed space. And you have made it so welcoming and so restful and peaceful, which is what it should be.
17 years ago, this space was transformed in a single, terrible moment from a hub of commercial and diplomatic business into a site of sheer anguish and horror. Some of you were there, as I mentioned, and suffered severe harm or saw family members or colleagues die. It’s with deep respect and sadness that I lay a wreath dedicated to the many Kenyans and Americans who perished or were injured or who lost loved ones on that day.

Let me be clear: The terrorists who struck on August 7th, 1998 failed utterly in their purpose, which was to implant fear in the hearts of the Kenyan people and to divide America from the citizens of this country. They failed for the same reason that terrorists will always fail. Yes, they can reduce a building to rubble; and yes, they can even deprive innocent people of their lives. But they do not give anyone anything of what really makes life worthwhile: a sense of community, of looking out for one another, of creating something valuable and new, of living in dignity and honor. Without a doubt, those who delight in the suffering and death of others have actually already lost everything that makes life worth living for.

My friends, we know that the struggle in which we are all engaged now is not going to be over soon. Nearly two years ago at Westgate Mall, five weeks ago at Garissa University – the college – and at other times in smaller yet equally vile attacks, terrorists have brought more tragedy to families here in Kenya. So as Rukia said, words are not sufficient to express our sorrow, our outrage, or our wish that we could somehow reverse time and bring all of the victims back. But we do not have that power. We do, however, have the power to fight back, not only with our military and law enforcement, but also through something that may even be more powerful and that may make a bigger difference in the end, and that is our unity and the character of our ideals. Unlike some, we do not define ourselves in terms of hate. We are builders. We are teachers. We are dreamers. We are doers. And we can see proof that in Rukia Ali, who suffered and grieved with others, both American and Kenyan, who worked at the embassy in 1998; we can see it by giving and receiving strength from her colleagues – and look, she has continued to serve. That tells the whole story, marking this year the conclusion of 25 years of a career.

And we see proof of character in the example of Joash Okindo. You all know the story – I just learned it recently – of how this man stood at the doorway when the terrorists were trying to come in and pretended that he didn’t have his keys because he was frantically calling for help, but people didn’t know he was serious. But by keeping those terrorists from getting inside, they had to detonate their bomb outside the protective fence. And just imagine what would’ve happened if Joash had not kept his head and kept his cool. Make no mistake: There is more strength by far in the respect and solidarity that we feel towards one another than there could ever be in any terrorist attack.

So let us agree the only place for al-Qaida, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Daesh, and others like them is in the past. The future does not belong to them. The future belongs to the children who are laughing and playing right now in the streets of Nairobi, of New York, of Kano, of Dar es Salaam, of Mogadishu, of Garissa – children who have the right to grow up with joy in their hearts and the opportunity to build full lives of accomplishment and love, and to build families and a future. It is to them that we must dedicate our own efforts to apprehend and prosecute the guilty, secure borders, strengthen governance, invest in the health and well-being of all people, and unite across every boundary of race, nation, ethnicity, and creed to defeat terror and to enrich life.

That is our obligation, and all you have to do is read the words there: “May the innocent victims of this tragic event rest in the knowledge that it has strengthened our resolve to work for a world in which man is able to live alongside his brother in peace.” That’s our mission, and I’m proud to be here to work on it and to join in it with all of you.

Thank you and God bless. Thank you.

(Applause.)