Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Readout Of The Ministerial Meeting On Sudan By NSC Chief Of Staff Denis McDonough


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release September 24, 2010



New York, New York

4:47 P.M. EDT

MR. HAMMER: Good afternoon, everybody. Denis McDonough, our National Security Council Chief of Staff, just came from the Sudan meeting and we thought it’d be useful for him to give you a brief readout and take some of your questions specifically on that topic.


MR. McDONOUGH: Thanks a lot, Mike, and the meeting is obviously still going on, as I think many of you have seen. And I think you have just got a copy of the President’s remarks and I think many of you were able to watch him on the televisions here.

I would just say -- I want to just spend a couple of minutes on the communiqué that came out of the meeting today. We believe that the communiqué is a historic achievement. It’s an unprecedented show of global unity in which the world communicates loudly and firmly that the referenda called for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be held on January 9th and the results must be and will be respected.

I think you heard from both the Vice Presidents who came from Sudan -- Vice President Kiir and Vice President Taha -- that they intend to meet that -- those target dates and to respect the outcome of those referenda whatever the outcomes are.

We believe it’s a strong and detailed communiqué that brings together the more than 40 countries and international organizations, the two CPA parties, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, around commitments for the Sudanese to undertake. It makes it clear that the core objective of the international community and all stakeholders in Sudan is the peaceful coexistence of the people of Sudan -- democratic governance, accountability, equality, respect, justice, and the establish of conditions for the conflict-affected communities to build strong, sustainable livelihoods.

And it includes specific commitments as follows: To hold peaceful and credible referenda that reflect the will of the people on January 9th. It makes it clear that the CPA parties bear the primary responsibility to carry out those referenda and meeting the CPA commitments, and that those CPA commitments don’t end with the referendums -- with the referenda.

They commit, importantly, and you heard this from the Vice Presidents, to respect the outcome of the referenda, and that they will be carried out within the framework of the agreement; that they will resolve the most critical issues necessary to provide a peace -- a path of peace and prosperity to all Sudanese regardless of the outcome; underscores concern about the situation, the humanitarian situation in southern Sudan; and underscores the need to develop governance capabilities -- again, regardless of the outcome of the referenda; expresses, importantly, concern about the security situation in Darfur; supports ending the conflict in Darfur; protecting civilians and calls for a halt of the arms flow into the region; and, importantly, underscores the principles of compensation, justice, and reconciliation in Darfur.

And last thing on this, as it relates to Darfur, there was a very clear call -- again, echoed importantly by the two parties to the agreement, both the government of Southern Sudan and the government of Sudan -- to an end of impunity in Darfur.

So, again, we think it was a historic communiqué that addresses issues as it relates to the CPA, importantly making the commitment that the referenda will be held on time, and also addresses the issues of accountability and impunity around Darfur as well.

So I’ll leave it at that and open it up to your questions.

Q If in fact the referendum goes ahead on the 9th and you end up with what seems to be a credible election for a separate state, would the U.S. be prepared to recognize Southern Sudan as a separate state?

MR. MCDONOUGH: You know, what we’re prepared to say today, David, is that we are prepared to, as the parties themselves said today, recognize and honor the outcome of the referenda, that they should be held on time, peacefully, and that everybody -- the more than 40 parties here that were in the meeting today, and the meeting is still going on as I suggested -- intent to respect the outcome of it regardless of the outcome.

We’ve also been, obviously, aggressively working with the parties. Scott has been in the region 20 times. Secretary Clinton has been having meetings all this week. And the President obviously has been having discussions this week. And we’ve laid out a diplomatic plan -- obligations and responsibilities of both of the parties going forward. So I think they have a clear understand of what we hope to hear from them and what we intend to do if they meet those targets.

Q Denis, there may be a distinction, a difference that I’m not understanding, but if you’re going to honor the outcome of the referendum -- and the referendum obviously is to create a separate state -- isn’t that the equivalent of saying that you would recognize the state if that was the outcome?

MR. MCDONOUGH: What I’m saying right now is I don’t want to -- I don’t want to jump to any conclusions of what the outcome of the elections will be -- of the referendum would be. But I’m telling you that --

Q But you will honor it either way?

MR. MCDONOUGH: That’s exactly what the party said today and that’s exactly what we’ve said all along on this.

Q Denis, as I understand it, the preparations for the referendum are woefully behind. Aside from the declarations today, is there anything in the communiqué or anything was agreed at the meeting in terms of increased assistance to speed up the process?

MR. MCDONOUGH: I think it’s a -- yes, it’s a fair question, and I think that you heard in the President’s remarks today that obviously he recognized that there’s been important progress on the referenda, but that it is still behind. Both of the parties, both the vice presidents, just committed again to the date and to making the necessary steps to meet the date.

I would just say a couple of things as it relates to this, Warren. Before the President announced his participation in this meeting, we were running into a series of roadblocks to include the unwillingness or inability of the referendum commission to order the referendum materials to conduct the referendum. We obviously still -- that’s changed. Early last week, the referendum commission went out and ordered those documents and those materials. That’s an important step and one that had been long in coming and is now underway.

The referendum commission has also released a series of important budget support to conduct the referendum. We think that’s also a positive step directly an outcome of the high-level attention of the international community as a result of today’s meeting.

Those are two positive steps. We’re looking for more. Obviously, the CPA, for example, calls for a period of 90 days for registration for voters in the referendum. That’s going to be compressed now. But we’re continuing to work with the parties, with the U.N., with USAID, to make sure that this -- these referenda come off on time, peacefully, and in a way that recognizes the will of the people of southern Sudan.

Q How about a question on the Middle East?

MR. MCDONOUGH: You are welcome to ask whatever questions you want. I’ll see if I can answer them.

Q Can you give us a status of talks between the U.S. and Israeli and Palestinian officials ahead of the freeze this week?

MR. MCDONOUGH: What I would say is that, as the President outlined yesterday in his remarks, we obviously continue to work this very aggressively. I think, importantly, there is -- continues to be very productive discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And obviously the United States is working on those. Secretary Clinton is leading the charge and working this very aggressively. But we don’t have any big announcements yet on that, Julianna, but we are continuing to work it very aggressively.

Q President Ahmadinejad said today that he believes that as early as next month there will be a resumption of talks with the P5-plus-1. Have you gotten through any channels any indications that in fact they’re really ready to set a date, they’re really ready to go back? And on what terms would the U.S. go back?

MR. McDONOUGH: You know, the EU foreign policy chief, Kathy Ashton, reached out to the Iranians earlier this year to underscore their -- our interest, and that is to say the P5-plus-1’s interest, in resuming those talks. She’s reached out and hasn’t heard back. So when we hear back and when she hears back, then we’ll know whether they’re serious or not.

Q And are we willing to talk just on the TRR or do you want this to be a broader --

MR. McDONOUGH: We’ve been very clear that we have, as the President made clear yesterday, that we have a range of concerns and he made clear this morning on BBC Persian that we have a range of concerns that focus on the illicit nuclear program. Obviously the TRR is an important step, but by no means addresses the main issue about which we have concern. And the President also outlined additional concerns today on BBC Persian to include support for terrorism, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and our ongoing concerns about human rights.

Q Do you see anything in the sort of histrionics of Ahmadinejad this week that reflect what might be increased sort of domestic political pressure on him, perhaps more impact from sanctions than they might have expected?

MR. McDONOUGH: Hard for me to draw anything from the hateful and -- the hateful comments from President Ahmadinejad. We do believe that, obviously, his government probably is under pressure as a result of what appears to be economic mismanagement. And obviously we and many others have talked to all of you, and I know Robert has talked to you and Mike has talked to you, about what appears to be Iranian concern about the impact of the sanctions. As the President made clear today, that the -- there’s a way for the government of Iran to alleviate the pressure of those sanctions, which is to suspend the illicit nuclear program and to live up to its responsibilities to the international community as it relates to that nuclear program. And we’re hopeful that it will do so.


Q Is the administration concerned at all that the legislation passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee today might increase frictions with China?

MR. McDONOUGH: I’m sorry, I haven’t been following the House debate. So is it -- was it --

Q That is -- let me --

MR. McDONOUGH: Is this the Ryan bill, I think -- has to do with --

Q -- the legislation to slap duties on --

Q A tariff.

Q -- countries that have undervalued currencies.

MR. McDONOUGH: I see. Well, I haven’t seen the bill, Julianna, and I’m not aware -- maybe it was -- I had seen a version of it. Maybe it was amended or something today, so I wouldn’t necessarily comment on the --

Q -- legislation that puts additional pressure on China to --

MR. McDONOUGH: What I would say on that is that obviously the President -- I think it was reported in all -- by several very valuable members of the American press corps and the White House press corps and your various newspapers today that the President had a productive conversation with Premier Wen yesterday. This was one of the issues that the President discussed with him. We’ve obviously seen some appreciation in the currency, and if that continues that would be significant.

Q Do you have any reaction to the Japanese officials released the Chinese fisherman who has captured off the Senkaku island?

MR. McDONOUGH: I don’t.

Q Back on Ahmadinejad. I don’t have a complete list of all the delegations that walked out yesterday or issued statements of denunciation, but it seems to be mostly European countries, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand. Are you at all disappointed there hasn’t been more of an outcry from other parts of the world, particularly the Arab world? Or have you heard things that we haven’t heard?

MR. McDONOUGH: You know, we’ve been in meetings off and on all day today, Warren, so I -- it could be that others have said things and I haven’t been aware of them.

I would say, as the President did today on BBC Persian, that what’s most striking about the hateful remarks is the extent to which they so fundamentally are at odds with the actions that the Iranian people took after -- the day after that heinous attack when there were candlelight vigils, public expressions of support for the United States, and against the hateful attacks that were undertaken that day.

So I think that’s the most striking contrast that I’ve seen as a result of what he had to say today -- yesterday.

Why don’t we take one more, then I got to go.

Q (Inaudible) -- just on Sudan, how do you think how U.S.A. administration will make sure the referendum will be -- will have credibility for both sides? And how do you -- what do you think about international community providing some assistance on the referendum?

MR. McDONOUGH: Well, as the President laid out and as both Vice President Taha and Vice President Kiir indicated, that they intend to carry out the referendum on time, peacefully, and in conjunction with the requirements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Those -- if it’s carried out in such a manner, that would obviously be in a way that would maximize its credibility.

And we and other members of the international community are working with both parties to ensure that they have what they need to ensure a credible outcome in that election. But we’re heartened by the fact that today both parties indicated, as did the 41 countries and international organizations that participated in the high-level meeting that the Secretary-General hosted today, that these referenda will take place on time, peacefully, and in a way that will reflect the will of the Sudanese people.


MR. HAMMER: Terrific. Thank you very much.

MR. McDONOUGH: Thanks, everybody.

END 5:02 P.M. EDT

Remarks By President Obama In A Ministerial Meeting On Sudan

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 24, 2010


United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York

3:37 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Mr. Secretary General, on behalf of us all, thank you for convening this meeting to address the urgent situation in Sudan that demands the attention of the world.

At this moment, the fate of millions of people hangs in the balance. What happens in Sudan in the days ahead may decide whether a people who have endured too much war move forward towards peace or slip backwards into bloodshed. And what happens in Sudan matters to all of sub-Saharan Africa, and it matters to the world.

I want to thank Vice President Taha and First Vice President Kiir for being here.

To my fellow leaders from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia -- your presence sends an unmistakable message to the Sudanese people and to their leaders that we stand united. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war must be fully implemented. The referenda on self-determination scheduled for January 9th must take place -- peacefully and on time, the will of the people of South Sudan and the region of Abyei must be respected, regardless of the outcome.

We are here because the leaders of Sudan face a choice. It’s not the choice of how to move forward to give the people of Sudan the peace they deserve. We already know what needs to be done. The choice is for Sudanese leaders -- whether they will have the courage to walk the path. And the decision cannot be delayed any longer.

Despite some recent progress, preparations for the referenda are still behind schedule. Now, the vote is only a little more than a hundred days away. And tragically, as has already been referred to, a recent spike in violence in Darfur has cost the lives of hundreds of more people.

So the stakes are enormous. We all know the terrible price paid by the Sudanese people the last time north and south were engulfed in war: some two million people killed. Two million people. Millions more left homeless; millions displaced to refugee camps, threatening to destabilize the entire region. Separately, in Darfur, the deaths of hundreds of thousands shocked the conscience of the world. This is the awful legacy of conflict in Sudan -- the past that must not become Sudan’s future.

That is why, since I took office, my administration has worked for peace in Sudan. In my meetings with world leaders, I’ve urged my counterparts to fully support and contribute to the international effort that is required. Ambassador Susan Rice has worked tirelessly to build a strong and active coalition committed to moving forward. My special envoy, General Gration, has worked directly with the parties in his 20 visits to the region.

We’ve seen some progress. With our partners, we’ve helped to bring an end to the conflict between Sudan and Chad. We’ve worked urgently to improve humanitarian conditions on the ground. And we’re leading the effort to transform the Sudan People’s Liberation Army into a professional security force, including putting an end to the use of children as soldiers.

Recognizing that southern Sudan must continue to develop and improve the lives of its people -- regardless of the referendum’s outcome -- we and the U.N. mission are helping the government of southern Sudan improve the delivery of food and water and health care and strengthen agriculture.

And most recently, we’ve redoubled our efforts to ensure that the referenda takes place as planned. Vice President Biden recently visited the region to underscore that the results of the referenda must be respected. Secretary Clinton has engaged repeatedly with Sudanese leaders to convey our clear expectations. We’ve increased our diplomatic presence in southern Sudan -- and mobilized others to do the same -- to prepare for the January 9th vote and for what comes after.

But no one can impose progress and peace on another nation. Ultimately, only Sudanese leaders can ensure that the referenda go forward and that Sudan finds peace. There’s a great deal of work that must be done, and it must be done quickly.

So two paths lay ahead: one path taken by those who flout their responsibilities and for whom there must be consequences
-- more pressure and deeper isolation.

The other path is taken by leaders who fulfill their obligations, and which would lead to improved relations between the United States and Sudan, including supporting agricultural development for all Sudanese, expanding trade and investment, and exchanging ambassadors, and eventually, working to lift sanctions -- if Sudanese leaders fulfill their obligations.

Now is the time for the international community to support Sudanese leaders who make the right choice. Just as the African nations of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development rose to the challenge and helped the parties find a path to peace in 2005, all of us can do our part to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully implemented.

We must promote dignity and human rights throughout all of Sudan, and this includes extending the mandate of the U.N. independent expert of Sudan -- because we cannot turn a blind eye to the violation of basic human rights. And as I said, regardless of the outcome of the referenda, we must support development in southern Sudan, because people there deserve the same dignity and opportunities as anyone else.

And even as we focus on advancing peace between north and south, we will not abandon the people of Darfur. The government of Sudan has recently pledged to improve security and living conditions in Darfur -- and it must do so. It need not wait for a final peace agreement. It must act now to halt the violence and create the conditions -- access and security -- so aid workers and peacekeepers can reach those in need and so development can proceed. Infrastructure and public services need to be improved. And those who target the innocent -- be they civilians, aid workers or peacekeepers -- must be held accountable.

Progress toward a negotiated and definitive end to the conflict is possible. And now is the moment for all nations to send a strong signal that there will be no time and no tolerance for spoilers who refuse to engage in peace talks.

Indeed, there can be no lasting peace in Darfur -- and no normalization of relations between Sudan and the United States -- without accountability for crimes that have been committed. Accountability is essential not only for Sudan’s future, it also sends a powerful message about the responsibilities of all nations that certain behavior is simply not acceptable in this world; that genocide is not acceptable. In the 21st century, rules and universal values must be upheld.

I saw the imperative of justice when I visited one of the camps in Chad several years ago. It was crowded with more than 15,000 people, most of them children. What I saw in that camp was heartbreaking -- families who had lost everything, surviving on aid. I’ll never forget the man who came up to me -- a former teacher who was raising his family of nine in that camp. He looked at me and he said very simply, “We need peace.” We need peace.

Your Excellencies -- Vice President Taha, First Vice President Kiir -- the Sudanese people need peace. And all of us have come together today because the world needs a just and lasting peace in Sudan.

Here, even as we confront the challenges before us, we can look beyond the horizon to the different future that peace makes possible. And I want to speak directly to the people of Sudan, north and south. In your lives you have faced extraordinary hardship. But now there’s the chance to reap the rewards of peace. And we know what that future looks like. It’s a future where children, instead of spending the day fetching water, can go to school -- and come home safe. It’s a future where families, back in their homes, can once again farm the soil of their ancestors.

It’s a future where, because their country has been welcomed back into the community of nations, more Sudanese have the opportunity to travel, more opportunity to provide education, more opportunities for trade. It’s a future where, because their economy is tied to the global economy, a woman can start a small business, a manufacturer can export his goods, a growing economy raises living standards, from large cities to the most remote village.

This is not wide-eyed imagination. This is the lesson of history -- from Northern Ireland to the Balkans, from Camp David to Aceh -- that with leaders of courage and vision, compromise is possible, and conflicts can be ended. And it is the example of Africans -- from Liberia to Mozambique to Sierra Leone -- that after the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress.

So that is the future that beckons the Sudanese people -- north and south, east and west. That is the path that is open to you today. And for those willing to take that step, to make that walk, know that you will have a steady partner in the United States of America.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 3:50 P.M. EDT

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Africa Leadership Congress Launched In A Historic Ceremony In Washington, DC

Washington,DC - Tuesday September 21, 2001

By Frederick Nnoma-Addison

In an extremely impressive Gala held at the plush Mandarin Oriental Hotel, hundreds of people gathered to witness the historic launching of the Africa Leadership Congress (ALC), an African-interest, African-led organization that has been created to better address the needs of Africans in the Diaspora, harness their human capacity for the betterment of their host countries and the African continent. The vision of ALC is summed up in its mission statement "Raising Strategic 21st Century Leadership." The organization was conceived two years ago by a group of U.S.-based, African-born leaders and now receives the support of hundreds of churches across the United States.

Addressing the attendants the Chairman of the Board His Majesty Adamtey I (Dr. Kingsley Fletcher) reiterated the need for Africans in the Diaspora to be better organized in the interest of the countries they reside in, their home countries and themselves. "Through a platform like the Africa Leadership Congress we will be able to address issues that are often neglected by policy makers. We conceived this initiative to have cross sectional leadership of Africa, to address Africa's issues not as countries but as a continent... Whether you speak English, Arabic, French, Portugese or Spanish we are all African and do have common concerns abroad or at home..." The event was attended by dignitaries from the diplomatic, government, corporate and non-profit sectors of both the U.S. and Africa. CNN & TV One's Roland Martin (in yellow, below) was the Master of Ceremonies.

After dinner awards were presented to deserving candidates who had distinguished themselves in leadership and service to the African continent.The award categories are as follows:

Global Statesman & World Leader Award

- Nelson Mandela

Transformational Leadership Award

- President Barack Obama
- President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
- President Goodluck Jonathan
- President Jacob Zuma.

Visionary Leadership Award

- Congressman Bobby Rush
- Pastor Enoch Adeboye
- Ambassador Erika Bennett, pictured with ALC Board Chairman King Adamtey I (right) and Organizing Committee Vice Chair Mr. Andre Hayes (left).

During the ceremony a Proclamation was presented on behalf of Governor Martin O'Maley of Maryland. It read:

Whereas: The Africa Leadership Congress has been serving and empowering the African community in Maryland and beyond; and

Whereas: The African in the state, has been a source of economic, intellectual and cultural richness to our community; and

Whereas: The Africa Leadership Congress continues to engage the State through education, outreach and civic engagement; and

NOW THEREFORE, I MARTIN O'MALLEY, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND, do hereby proclaim SEPTEMBER 21, 2010 as a special day of TRIBUTE TO THE AFRICA LEADERSHIP CONGRESS in Maryland, and do recomment this celebration to all of our citizens.

ALC Executive Board members (above) include the following: (Left to Right)

Mr. William Femi Awodele (Nigeria), Dr. Zizette Gabriell (Egypt), Dr. James Fadele (Nigeria), Dr. Cindi Trimm (Bermuda), King Adamtey I (Ghana), Dr. Bisi Tofade (Nigeria), Dr. Timothy Agbega (Nigeria), Bishop Darlington Johnson (Liberia).

Organizing Committee members who planned the inaugural event are:

Pastor Kemi Onanuga (Chair), Mr. Andre Hayes (Vice), Mr. Tony Regusters, Mr. Frederick Nnoma-Addison, Mr. Daniel Koroma, Mr. Kunle Malomo, Mr. Craig Atenidegbe, Pastor Evelyne Samuel, Pastor Killingsworth, Mr. Aly Ramji and Mr. Thione Niang.

ALC is also grateful to the following interns who helped plan the event:

Ms. Shola Bello, Mr. Malcolm Hayes and Ms. Anji Baba-Ahmed

Long Live the Africa Leadership Congress!

For more information about ALC visit http://www.africaleadershipcongress.org

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Respected AGOA Architect, Rosa Whitaker Reacts to U.S. Government’s Assessment of AGOA

AMIP News - Washington, DC - September 2, 2010

By Frederick Nnoma-Addison

Only months after elaborate celebrations in Washington, DC to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act – AGOA and the conclusion of the 9th AGOA forum (August 2-6), respected AGOA architect and Washington, DC leader on U.S. - African trade affairs Rosa Whitaker has challenged U.S. Government’s assessment of AGOA as “disappointing,” in a special radio interview to be broadcast across Africa. Speaking to AMIP News’s Frederick Nnoma-Addison, Whitaker referred to recent comments by U.S. government officials including Secretary Clinton as a mischaracterization of a program that is obviously working and has a huge potential to eradicate poverty in Africa.

“ … I think that is the position of the Obama administration, you just have to hear the speeches from everybody…What we expected to hear at the AGOA forum was how this administration was going to build on it and not how AGOA is not working… I am supportive of the President but it is important to speak out and challenge the administration… it helps them get better, and I am not the only one doing so… AGOA is an opportunity and not a guarantee. It was not designed as a panacea but as one very effective tool in the U.S. policy arsenal to help stimulate U.S.-Africa trade and long-term economic growth and development. In that regard it has been a phenomenal success…”

A classic example of some of the statements that Ms. Whitaker referred to includes one by Secretary Hillary Clinton’s during the just ended 9th annual AGOA forum in the U.S.

“…Regional integration has gotten too little attention within the AGOA framework, but I think it should be at the top of our shared agenda. Today, the nations of Africa trade with each other less than any region of the world...”

Secretary Clinton

Ms. Whitaker does agree with Secretary Clinton on the need for regional integration but beyond that she says intra-regional trade should be reflected in U.S. trade policy with Africa, if there is talk about the lack of it.

“Millennium Challenge Corporation should have a regional compact or there should be legislations that invest in regional integration… we must pursue correlating policies to match our areas of concern. And we should also recognize the successes that Africa has achieved in regional integration and intra-regional trade – east Africa for example…”


Signed into law on May 18, 2000 by President Clinton as the Trade and Development Act of 2000 (H.R. 434) or more commonly referred to as AGOA (African Growth & Opportunities Act), this law provides some 41 eligible countries trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry of 6,500 different goods into the United States. This piece of legislation is designed to expand U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa, stimulate economic growth, promote trade and investment talks and encourage economic integration.

10 years later AGOA is viewed by many as a success although Ms. Whitaker concedes that investment response has been weak because U.S. companies have not been incentivized like say the Chinese. According to her the Obama administration is sending out an inconsistent report about the performance of AGOA. Under AGOA $1billion in garments and $2billion worth of equipment and automobile investments (Mercedes Benz, GM, BMW etc.) from South Africa have been exported to the United States duty-quota free, not to talk about exports from all the other sectors, the 300,000 jobs that have already been created or compare the return on investment (ROI) with aid dividends.

“AGOA Incentivizes investments and I think that this is the time for the government to be signaling to Africa and investors the extension of AGOA which is scheduled to expire in 2015. This in the interest of the United States, we do have economic imperatives… Africa is going to have the largest consumer base in the world… "


In her recently published article on the same subject Ms. Whitaker writes - I find it troubling that declaring AGOA's achievements a "disappointment" has gained currency in so many policy circles. It leverages a pernicious line of thinking, one that belittles the significant achievements African countries have made over the last 10 years and perceives polices that support African economic growth as zero-sum. This thinking threatens to undermine what I believe is one of the United States' most successful and cost-effective development assistance programs ever.

Between the seemingly differing views expressed by Ms. Whitaker, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk, Secretary Clinton and other higher government officials in the Obama administration, I finds it necessary to probe further into AGOA and evaluate in certain terms the state of AGOA today and its future, especially beyond 2015 since Ms. Whitaker informs that there are legislations pending designed essentially to “kill” AGOA.

Several viewpoints in Washington attempt to explain the administrations alleged unenthusiastic attitude towards AGOA. They could be looking for reasons not to build upon it like previous administrations have done or the right people are just not empowered.

“Historically politicians water down the merits of a program if they do not wish to expend energy and resources in a particular area and some in Washington think this might one of such situations…”


Ms. Whitaker strongly defends AGOA and explains that it is a powerful engine for growth if its trade preferences are coupled with effective development programs and reforms that build the capacity for African businesses to succeed in international markets.
She compliments U.S. development agency MCC for delivering “smart country-led aid” and recommends that MCC should consider focusing on a few things; power and transport infrastructure - since the two contribute to the highest cost of doing business in Africa. Whitaker explained that pre-AGOA America did not see Africa as a potential trading partner. There was AID, humanitarian and political policies formulated towards African but not a trade policy. She stressed the fact that no region of the world had ever transitioned from poverty into prosperity without putting business and trade over aid dependence – “Businesses create jobs not NGO’s… and brings people out of poverty” Says Whitaker.
“Cost of implementing AGOA is a fraction of the cost of delivering development assistance to Africa and it successfully moves from the aid industrial complex built around Africa to trade…”


One cannot rule out the fact that politics-as-usual may be behind the Obama administration’s response to AGOA as described by Ms. Whitaker although one needs to give them due credit for making Africa a high priority in their foreign policy. Ultimately African governments and private sector need to spend time to explore the opportunities vested in this program and maximize them while it lasts because come 2015 the life cycle of AGOA will end and it will be up to legislators in Washington to determine whether it will be extended or not. As the interests of individual nations converge in a global economy, a program like AGOA becomes a win-win for both the United States and African countries. For the U.S. companies that have not yet explored AGOA, the law makers and politicians who might not necessarily favor the program, this might be the time to take a closer look at AGOA because when Africa prospers, the whole world prospers too.

About The Whitaker Group
The Whitaker Group (TWG) is the premier strategic consulting firm in the US committed to creating sustainable prosperity in Africa. The firm actualizes the promise of AGOA by working with the largest companies in the world to help them facilitate their engagement and investments in Africa and with countries on their investment attraction strategies. TWG also chairs an AGOA action coalition. Since its inception in 2003, The Whitaker Group has facilitated more than $1 billion in trade and capital flows to Africa.

Before launching TWG, Rosa Whitaker served as the first ever Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa in the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton. In this capacity, she developed and implemented the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other bilateral and multilateral trade policy initiatives for Africa.
She started the USTR’s Office of African Affairs and was the lead U.S. negotiator for trade agreements with African countries. Under her leadership, the U.S. was credited with a string of unprecedented initiatives to enhance American trade, investment and economic cooperation with African countries. Before joining USTR, Ms. Whitaker was Senior Trade Adviser to Congressman Charles Rangel. In that position, she was one of the hands-on architects of AGOA and helped develop the Africa Trade and Investment Caucus in Congress. She was responsible for advising Congressman Rangel on a broad range of issues related to the World Trade Organization, Africa and China.

As a career diplomat, she served in Africa and the State Department’s Office of International Energy Policy. She also served as Executive Director of the Washington Office of International Business. Over her career, Ms. Whitaker has built an extensive network of contacts in the U.S. government and business community, as well as in the public and private sectors throughout Africa. Her leadership in designing and implementing initiatives has brought numerous trade and investment opportunities to Africa.

Among her many honors, in March 2008 Bennett College for Women named her a Woman with the Audacity to Excel, along with legendary civil rights pioneer Dr. Dorothy Height and three other African-American women leaders. In 2002, she was named Woman of the Year in International Trade by the Women in International Trade organization. Her other honors include the 2001 Africa-America Institutes Award for Promoting U.S.-Africa Trade Relations and the Annual Achievement Award from the U.S. Association of Importers of Textile and Apparel in 2000. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Trade by Consumers for World Trade in 2003. She holds Masters and Bachelor degrees from the American University in Washington, D.C. and has completed studies in England and Italy as well as at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. In April 2008, Ms. Whitaker married Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, overseer of Christian Action Faith Ministries.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bi-National Commission To Convene Third Round of Talks

Binational commission to convene third round of talks

By Charles W. Corey

Washington - The U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission convenes its third full working group meeting September 13 in Washington for two days of talks that will focus on the Niger Delta and Nigeria's role in regional security.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs William Fitzgerald sat down with America.gov September 7 to preview the talks.

Fitzgerald said Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs, H. Odien Ajumogobia, told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton August 5 that he strongly supported the September 13-14 talks and that Nigeria agreed that this is an important issue of mutual interest.

The prestigious Council on Foreign Relations agreed to host the talks in Washington, Fitzgerald explained, because of the importance they place on the Niger Delta and because of the amount of work they have been doing there.

The opening segments of the meetings will be open to the press, and think tank and academic experts will attend the talks as well, he added. The sessions will be moderated by two senior fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations, Paul B. Stares and former U.S. Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman. Lyman has had a long-abiding interest in Nigeria and served as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa.

Fitzgerald said the United States sees the Niger Delta as a region of integral importance to Nigeria. "We have concerns about the Niger Delta because insecurity is rampant. It is a region where there is some 90 percent of Nigeria's oil either off- or onshore, where local communities have not benefited from the petroleum wealth. ... Dissident groups arose to either fight this injustice or to claim part of the spoils of the oil trade" in response to that situation, he said.

The late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua - before he left for Saudi Arabia for medical treatment - offered an amnesty for those fighting in the delta, Fitzgerald recalled. "I think it is surprising to everyone that the amnesty has by-and-large worked. It has cut the fighting dramatically. We have seen in recent months sporadic instances of violence, but compared to previous years, the insecurity has diminished considerably. President [Goodluck] Jonathan promised to continue President Yar'Adua's lead on the amnesty program when he assumed office."

"Clearly, there is a great deal left to do in the Niger Delta," Fitzgerald stressed. "What we need to see in the Niger Delta is a consolidation of the peace - a durable and lasting peace that enables the Nigerian government at the federal and local levels as well as the international community to promote development in the local communities."

Five of the region's state governors will be participating in the September 13 talks. Those governors, he said, will also participate in a program put together by Reta Jo Lewis, the State Department's special representative for intergovernmental global affairs, which will allow the Nigerian governors to meet and discuss areas of mutual interest with U.S. state-level officials.

Following a day focused on the Niger Delta, talks will move on to a second-day focus on Nigeria's regional security role. "Nigeria has always played a great role in the security and stability of West Africa," Fitzgerald said.

Spelling out U.S. priorities for the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, Fitzgerald said the U.S. government wants to "strengthen, develop and deepen our relationship with Nigeria, which is one of our closest allies on the continent, one of our closest partners on the continent. It is very important that we take advantage of these working groups to debate and discuss openly Nigeria and Africa's future, because Nigeria plays such an important role on the continent."

Overall, U.S. policy seeks to improve elections, fight corruption and work with the Nigerians to boost the amount of electric power that they can generate, according to Fitzgerald. "Nigeria is a wealthy country that has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources - oil, natural gas, coal. However, their manufacturing sector, their industrial sector, has all but disappeared," he said. Nigerians need to improve infrastructure and benefits to assist in the economic development of the whole country through power generation, medical services, schools and the like.

"This is long-term; you are not going to turn around the energy deficit overnight. This is the goal for the future," he said.

The first U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission meeting convened in Abuja in May to discuss electoral reform and good governance. It was followed by a second meeting in Washington on energy and investment.

"The first two Binational Commission meetings were excellent and have shown precisely how well the United States and Nigeria can collaborate on key issues," Fitzgerald said. "I have no doubt that this will be the case on the Niger Delta and regional security."

On April 6, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nigerian Secretary to the Government of the Federation Yayale Ahmed inaugurated the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, a strategic dialogue designed to expand mutual cooperation across a broad range of shared interests. The commission is a collaborative forum to fortify partnerships between the United States and Nigeria.

Four working groups have been formed: Good Governance, Transparency and Integrity; Energy and Investment; the Niger Delta and Regional Security Cooperation; and Food Security and Agriculture.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The African Leadership Congress Placing New Footprints on the Path to Leadership

By Tony Regusters

A Roman emperor, Scipio Africanus, who brought defeat to Rome’s brilliant and implacable enemy, Hannibal Barca of Carthage, was reputedly the author of this phrase: “Out of Africa, there is always something wonderful…”

Depending on your point of view, Africa and anything African have either been the root of marvelous and wonderful things, or the signature epitome of human suffering. In reality, as with all things bearing on the human factor, the truth is closer to the middle ground than the root or the epitome as stated earlier.

With an appreciation of that reality, a new international organization, the African Leadership Congress, founded in Washington, DC and the State of Maryland, is working to bring the best that Africans, especially Africans in the west, are qualified to offer and bear. Forged from a coalition of Diaspora Africans (defined as any African or descendant of Africa living, working, or studying in the western world), the work of the African Leadership Congress is focused on forging dynamic alliances that will promote new leadership for the ‘Africa of the 21st century’.

“As we look around at the world today, especially the African world, we clearly see that much work still remains to be done, to bring people together in the name of peace and prosperity,” says Rev. Kemi Onanuga, chairperson of the organizing committee of the African Leadership Congress.

Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Rev. Onanuga’s Nigerian heritage, combined with her British pluck and intelligence make her a formidable force for positive change.
“Right now, despite headlines focused on terrible incidents of human cruelty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the chaotic social and political mathematics of Sudan and poor tortured Somalia, if one has an eye to see, what that eye would perceive and witness are the positive great changes occurring all across the African continent, including a new interest of the potential blessings derived from Greater Africa connecting with those in the African Diaspora.” It is true, that for the interested and attentive observer, it’s quite clear that we are living in a time of epic political, economic, and social transformation. As the remnants of 20th century thinking and ways of being give way, kicking and screaming, it seems, to the emerging global consciousness of the 21st century, Africans believe the time has come for Africa to rise and shine.

“Here in Maryland, said Daniel Koroma, an aide to Montgomery County Executive Ike
Leggett, and a member of the ALC’s organizing committee, “we’re taking the idea of an African renaissance very seriously. Our own population statistics bear out the fact that many African immigrants in the United States, who as a group represent some of the best educated people in the nation, have an important role to play in the future of Maryland and the nation as a whole. I believe that the African Leadership Congress will stand as the signpost for those of us here in the Diaspora who also wish to give back to the nations of our ancestors.”

That interest includes a new commitment to bridging the gap between Africans and African Americans. “Many Africans, although our own ancestral nations are just a mere 50 years out of the colonial era, are still learning about and becoming more sensitized to the experiences that scar the descendants of Africans in the Americas, whose ancestors were stolen away into slavery,” Rev. Onanuga explained. “This is not our own experience, and it has been something we essentially had to figure out on our own when it came to connecting with or relating to African Americans, and we’ve dedicated an aspect of the ALC’s mission to healing that rift.”

Many Africans see the election of Barack Obama as the first ever African American President of the United States, as a sign from God that America has finally lived up to its credo that “All men are created equal,” and that his inauguration wasn’t only historic for the people of the United States, but also for Africa and other people of color around the world.

“As a professional in global media, heading up a company whose focus is dedicated to rebranding the image of Africa and Africans and the image of Africa in news and entertainment media,” adds Andre Hayes, President and CEO of Montgomery County-based One World New Media, Inc, and vice-chair ALC organizing committee., “I see the African Leadership Congress as a powerful platform for the development of a whole new set of concepts and idea about what it is to be African or African American. Media is and always will be a huge component in any campaign or effort dedicated to uplift people and change minds, for better or worse. We, of course, with the African Leadership Congress, are solidly aiming for the best, better end result…”

There’s no doubt about it, the world is changing at an accelerated rate. African nations and every other nation in the global community, including the United States, have been affected by a debilitating economic crisis not experienced since the 1930’s. Irrespective of that, the founding members of the African Leadership Congress believe this organization can and will play an important role in shepherding brilliant new young leadership onto the world stage, most particularly across Africa and throughout the global African Diaspora.

“On the evening of September 21, 2010, the ALC is presenting an inaugural gala at Washington, DC’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, at which time we will make our aims very clear. The event will honor several African heads-of-state, such as Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Africa’s first democratically-elected female head-of-state, and Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, among others. Our primary goal is to guide and mentor Africa’s brilliant future leaders, and today’s young people who have a powerful potential and destiny. As an organization comprised of people who all have a heart for Africa, we fully intend to do our part to midwife the rebirth of Africa,” the ALC’s Rev. Onanuga concluded.

All that can be added to that is the very real hope that there will be some form of spin-off, beyond the ALC’s work for Africa and Africans in the Diaspora that has the same transformational impact on America and the American people – who also, very much, deserve a break.

Tony Regusters is an award-winning TV news producer for Washington, DC area stations, including CNN, WUSA-TV 9 and Black Entertainment Television, where he created the “Teen Summit” program. He is currently the producer and director of the award-winning documentary film “Obama in Ghana: The Untold Story”.

Statement by Secretary Clinton on Swaziland's Independence Day

Office of the Spokesman
September 3, 2010


Kingdom of Swaziland's Independence Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate His Majesty, King Mswati III, and the people of Swaziland on the 42nd anniversary of your independence this September 6.

The United States salutes Swaziland's increasingly bold leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and we are committed to supporting the Kingdom's efforts to make treatment available to all affected individuals. We will also remain a full partner with Swaziland as you seek to strengthen good governance and rule of law, and promote economic development.

We are proud that more than 1,700 Americans have joined Swazi communities through the Peace Corps to foster cultural ties between our nations and help address local challenges. Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini's personal support for our volunteers has been critical to ensuring the success of their work, and we look forward to expanding the program further with the new education project in 2011.

I wish all the people of Swaziland a safe and joyous holiday with a peaceful and prosperous year to come.

U.S. Department of State

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Montgomery County Celebrates African Heritage Month

Silver Spring, MD
September 2, 2010

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett kicked off African Heritage Month on Thursday, September 2 with a special celebration at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring. Montgomery County was the first in the nation to proclaim the month of September as African Heritage Month. Mr. Leggett presented a proclamation in honor of African Heritage Month during the ceremony.

The year-long celebration includes a reception hosted by members of Montgomery County’s African Affairs Advisory Group and will feature musical entertainment and African cuisine.

Other activities lined up include:

• Saturday and Sunday, September 4, 5 at 2 p.m. -- Solidarity Soccer Tournament sponsored by the Congolese Community of D.C., New York and Chicago at Gunners Lake Park, 12698 Wisteria Drive, Germantown;

• Sunday, September 5, 10 a.m. -- African Heritage Month Labor Day Event at the Viking Center, 15212 Dino Drive, Burtonsville;

• Saturday, September 18, 4 to 9 p.m. -- Pan African Cultural Festival at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring; and

• Tuesday, September 21, 5 to 10 p.m. -- Africa Leadership Congress, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 1330 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.

For more information, contact the Office of Community Partnerships at 240-777-2584.

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