Wednesday, February 23, 2011

President Obama on the Situation In Libya

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
February 23, 2011

Remarks by the President on Libya

Grand Foyer
5:07 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya. Over the last few days, my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward.

First, we are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. That is my highest priority. In Libya, we've urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support. Meanwhile, I think all Americans should give thanks to the heroic work that's being done by our Foreign Service officers and the men and women serving in our embassies and consulates around the world. They represent the very best of our country and its values.

Now, throughout this period of unrest and upheaval across the region the United States has maintained a set of core principles which guide our approach. These principles apply to the situation in Libya. As I said last week, we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya.

The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed and injured. The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.

The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.

In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus. Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators, and stands with the Libyan people.

This same message, by the way, has been delivered by the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and many individual nations. North and south, east and west, voices are being raised together to oppose suppression and support the rights of the Libyan people.

I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.

Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.

This is not simply a concern of the United States. The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community. To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.

I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council. There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.

And even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, let me just say that our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.

So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.

As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.” We just want to be able to live like human beings. It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change. And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.

Thank you very much.

END 5:14 P.M. EST

Saturday, February 19, 2011

USAID’s Ari Alexander on Procurement Reform, Strategic Partnerships & Administrator Shah’s Vision for the Agency




Friday February 18, 2011


AMIP News - Good afternoon and welcome. This is a special interview with AMIP News. We have the opportunity of speaking with em USAID's Senior Advisor to the Administrator for NGO Partnerships and Global Engagement and former Deputy Director for the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives in the Person of Ari Alexander, Ari Hello!

Ari Alexander (AA) - Hello Frederick how are you?

AMIP News - Very well thank you and thank you for joining me in the studios today.

AA - My pleasure to be here.

AMIP News - Right. Now just as a background it is my understanding that you have helped drive one of Administrator Shah's top priorities; reforming procurement policies in order to build more sustainable local capacity. In just a minute tell me about your story at USAID and your work over there just to give listeners and readers some background about who Ari Alexander is.

AA - Sure Frederick, thank you very much. Well I have the opportunity to work with a wonderful team here at USAID on procurement reform, one of the Administrator of USAID's top priorities and in simple terms what this means is the way that we do business, we've developed a reputation in recent years of being more friendly to very large companies that we award very large contracts to and this sends a message to a lot of people, that we are not open for business with smaller, newer partners, and what we are finding is that by prioritizing, changing some of our rules and regulations, some of the sheer volume of the paper work that it has required in the past to apply for funding to work with USAID, we are really trying to open the doors wider so that we are able to have a larger number of partners across the world with whom we partner to accomplish our development objectives.

And so there is a real emphasis here at USAID on getting back to the roots of great development which is most often done by local partners who are living and know best the communities in which they live and work and are really able to help lead us most successfully accomplish our projects. So the procurement reform effort has given us all a jolt of energy to prioritize, improving some of our business in that direction in the 82 missions around the world in which we work.

AMIP News - Sounds Great. Now when did this new direction come in, did it come with Administrator Shah's administration or what?

AA - That's right, administrator Shah begun his tenure here at USAID just a week before the terrible earth quake in Haiti eh, and after tending to that which was the largest disaster response in US government's history, and Administrator Shah was the lead for the US government in that response. He set about a very ambitious reform agenda that we call USAID Forward, and procurement reform is one of the pillars of that reform agenda that he's been speaking about for about 9 months, eh, high profile speeches both here in Washington and when he travels around the world. So there's a dedicated team working on procurement reform here through the General Counsel's office, our office of Acquisition and Assistance, and technical experts from throughout the agency just as there are teams working on all of the other objectives of the reform effort. So indeed we are about 1 year into the launch of this vision and very excited about the earlier results.

AMIP News - OK Sounds Good. Now USAID's work invariably is supposed to compliment or help the United States achieve it's foreign policy goals and I am reading here that your work involves partnerships with Faith Based Organizations. And the question is how do the two go together? How do you work with Faith Based Organizations to achieve US government’s foreign policy goals. Can you clarify that?

AA - Absolutely, so Faith Based Organizations are a subset of the partners with whom we work to accomplish our development objectives. As you know many of the organizations that do the best development work around the world are faith based in their orientation. Their motivation to do the work they do, their desire to help the world's poor, are very often eh housed in faith based structures, either networks of religious organizations that are national or international, or development specific organizations that have a common moral imperative to make the world a better place, to help the most vulnerable, to have many many partners around the world with whom we work. Some of those partners are Faith Based Organizations and partners and because of the establishment clause in the United States that guarantees a certain separation between church and state, there is some unique sensitivities and challenges around working with these partners in order to ensure that we maintain a very clear separation in caring for the tax payer dollars that we use to fund USAID projects around the world.

And so we have an office here to help organizations navigate that space in order to ensure that they are able to work with us as partners just like any other development partner, but so that they know that there is a very clear constitutional line to make sure that the tax payer dollars that are being spent are spent exclusively on achieving development objectives and are not mixed with inherently religious activities. Even if the motivations of some of the groups with whom we work are religious in nature, and so that's how our office functions in the larger structure here we tend to meet a lot of the groups with questions about how to navigate those waters and we help them do that since we have decades of experience of working with tremendous development organizations that are faith based in nature.

AMIP News - OK Sounds Good. If you are just listening I am speaking with eh USAID Senior Advisor to the Administrator for NGO, Partnerships and Global Engagement in the person of Ari Alexander, my name is eh Frederick Nnoma-Addison and this is AMIP News.

AMIP News - Uh now Mr. Alexander before I ask you a few questions about you upcoming trip to Ghana one question. How do you respond to development aid critics who say that aid is outdated and now we need to be talking about trade, what do you say?

AA - So we here at USAID follow the conversation happening on the global development community very closely and we have Administrator Shah, a real visionary and leader for the global development community. He has, some of you may know, worked at the Gates Foundation for many years, eh, prior to coming here and he brings a lot of his ideas and innovation and network from the private sector and the for profit world into his work as a leader in the US government and that enables us to think outside the box in much of our portfolio in a way that ensures that we are working most efficiently, that we are getting the best ideas from around the world and incorporating new methods to work most effectively to achieve our development objectives, so for example he's launched a development innovation venture in order to model a type of instrument for us modeled on the venture capital model which is been very successful in the private sector but is been less common in the development community.

What that means is that we can take more risk on innovative models and in development and expect that many of our funds will go towards projects that ultimately do not succeed, but that we can learn a lot from those experiences and that if one or two game changing innovations are funded and seeded by USAID it will be worth investing in dozens of others that are able to do so along the lines of the way that microenterprise or mobile banking has launched a taken off and changed the development world.

So we see a lot of room for innovation here, we see a lot of room for working more directly with local partners which is a direct response towards the critics of aid about the way money is spent on the overhead cost that we see in some of those larger organizations with whom we work. It’s more effective for us as an agency if we can find excellent, strong local partners, and that indeed is why we are committed to building the capacity of local organizations so that ultimately our purpose as a development agency is to get ourselves out of business and to ask for these skills and these investments for sustainable growth and in development into the countries themselves where we work, that's the long term vision of any development agency and we've shared that with many of our partners so that together in the decades to come we are able to see ourselves exit from a country and look back at a success story.

AMIP News - Sounds great, now USAID and Millennium Challenge Corporation, are you partners or competitors?

AA - So we have many many arms of the US government that work in concert here in Washington and around the world. So on any given day here in the nation's capital in the United States there are interagency meetings for senior officials from the Millennium Challenge Corporation from USAID, from OPEC, from the Department of Treasury, from the Department of State and Agriculture are all meeting each other in order to make sure that our strategies and programs are well coordinated. The same thing happens in the field, so in Ghana at any given time we have US government officials from many different agencies meeting together constantly and coordinating programs. So the Millennium Challenge Corporation has a very successful compact awarded in 2006 with Ghana, has been followed up just recently last month with a decision to award a second compact. We are very excited about that because the investment going into agriculture and investment going into infrastructure that is so central to the work we do in development over the long term so we are very much working together to achieve sustainable economic growth and we are excited to continue our robust relationship with our MCC partners in Ghana.

AMIP News - Sounds great, em, tell me when are you going to Ghana?

AA - I leave tomorrow night, I can't wait.

AMIP News - Oh my goodness! And how long are you gone?

AA - I will be there between Monday and Thursday, so I will arrive Sunday in the evening and I leave Thursday night, so I will have four days in the country.

AMIP News - And where in Ghana are you going to be, in Accra?

AA - Based in Accra and I am also going to be, going to be in a few other locations in the country and you will forgive my pronunciation, these places are new to me. I am going to be going to a site visit in Akorle in Akyem Sekyere and Gomoa Otambo.

AMIP News - You've done very well, don't worry.

AA - I am going to be going out of the capital in order to see some projects.

AMIP News - Now, what what what do you hope to accomplish on this trip, what are some of the things you'll be doing?

AA - So they are few objectives on this trip. One is to take advantage of a fantastic Africa-wide gathering taking place. Every two years the Africa Health Christian Association has a conference where Christian health associations from throughout Africa - from 21 different countries come together to share best practices about their work at the grass roots level and faith based networks, delivering health care around the continent. So I am going to be speaking to that gathering which will involve approximately 75 experts from all over the continent. I am going to be talking to them about my work here at USAID and opportunities for partnerships and for learning that we can have together.

In addition I am going to be talking a lot about our Feed the Future initiative which is the President and the Administrator's em flagship em project for economic growth and sustainable agriculture. Ghana is going to be a country where we are investing significant time and resources compared to many other countries around the world on the Feed the Future initiative. So I am going to be meeting with our country team leading the strategy as well having the opportunity as visiting several agriculture project sites some of them more recent and some of them that have been going on for decades in order to better understand the agricultural environment and context within which we will be working in Feed the Future.

AMIP News - Sounds great, now you did say that the US government has approved some new monies for Ghana? How much?, what kind of money are we talking about?

AA- So we are at a time here in the budget cycle in the US that we are listening very carefully to try to understand all the details of the budget that is coming out. You might have, some of your listeners may have seen on the news that there are very tense conversations happening in Washington right now between Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives. So the President has released his budget actually just in the last week for 2012 and believe it or not we are still debating over the remainder of 2011 budget so there are a lot of budget debates going on and this leaves a lot of our programs in some doubt and we are really pushing hard for the Feed the Future initiative and many of our other projects in Ghana to be not only continued but expanded, but we won't know the details and how that plays out for some time but I am going to be making sure to take the stories and the learning that I get out of this trip in Ghana back here in Washington to try and influence folks here to make sure that Ghana and our projects there in partnership with the government and people are fully supported.

AMIP News - That's great! I am beginning to wrap up now. If you just joined I am speaking with Ari Alexander who is Senior Advisor to the Administrator for NGO Partnerships and Global Engagement at USAID. My name is Frederick Nnoma-Addison and this is AMIP News once again.

Ari Alexander a question for you. The U.S. government, USAID works mostly in developing countries and spends so much resources engaging developing communities, now here in the states there is a huge constituency from developing countries. If you take Nigeria for example there are about a million Nigerians resident in America, that's a nation within a nation. What does the USAID and other development organizations do to engage this nation within the nation.

AA - Frederick I am so glad you asked that question, em the Obama administration has emphasized the incredible opportunity we have, to work with our African Diaspora community we have in the United States. There are so many examples, Nigerians as you mentioned, Somali Americans, Egyptian Americans, Armenian Americans.

All over the world, the places where we work have very strong communities throughout the United States. Here in Washington we have an incredibly large Ethiopian community here that we see on the streets every day as part of our daily lives, so indeed the United States is a place where people from all over the world live amongst one another. We have a series of efforts going on in order to more effectively engage the Diaspora community. It's something that we've traditionally not done enough of as an agency. And so we'd love to hear from your listeners, those of you who are in the United States and interested in learning about the work USAID does and being a part of conversations and partners, and how we can learn from your experiences. You may know about fantastic projects going on in Ghana that may not yet be on our radar screen and we’d like to learn about the kinds of projects and programs that you know about or you help to lead. Please do let us know. I will give an email address to your listeners.

AMIP News - Sure go ahead.

AA - Can feel free to email us if they are interested in being on an email list for future opportunities to engage in particular countries or region. The email address is FBCI@USAID.GOV, so that stands for Faith Based Community Initiatives at USAID.GOV and we'd love to hear from you with any ideas or suggestions you have or if are just interested in learning more about the work that we do around the world and I thank you very much.

AMIP News - So that's FBCI@USAID.GOV

AA - That's right

AMIP News - One last question before you go. Em USAID recently turned 50. What do
you see for USAID em in the next 50 years?

AA - So we are thrilled that Ghana is the country that we had our first Peace Corps program in the world. It's a country where we started working before USAID existed as an agency and today it's a country where more presidential and USAID initiatives are being supported than almost any other country in the world. We've had a long very exciting relationship with Ghana and we would like to say that we've played a small part in this success story that is Ghana. Ghana is pointing to around the world not only on the African continent, as one of the great success stories in development and we hope that in the next 50 years there will be more Ghana's and the Ghana's of the world would be donors. That's where we see ourselves going over time.

AMIP News - Well, Ari Alexander, Senior Advisor to Administrator for NGO Partnerships and Global Engagement USAID, any final comments before you get on that plane to Ghana?

AA - I can't wait to Ghana, it will be my first trip there, and eh now that you have an email address to reach me if your listeners have any recommendations for a good restaurant do let me know.

AMIP News - Before you go there's a great book out there, I was asking, there is a book that my organization published I don't know if you've found it within your office, the United States & Ghana: Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship & Progress In Pictures, if you can find it make it a carry on item and travel safe to Ghana.

AA - Thank you very much for your recommendation and thank you and your listeners for your time.

AMIP News - Thank you.

END - 1:53pm EST

Friday, February 11, 2011



Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 11, 2011
Grand Foyer

3:06 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.

By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.

The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.

The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary -- and asked for -- to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity -- jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.

Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.

We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.

We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”

We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” -- “We are peaceful” -- again and again.

We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.

And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.

We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.

And above all, we saw a new generation emerge -- a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.

This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence -- not terrorism, not mindless killing -- but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.

And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history -- echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.

As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.

Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.

The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people -- of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.

Thank you.

END 3:13 P.M. EST


Statement of President Barack Obama on Egypt


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 10, 2011

Statement of President Barack Obama on Egypt

The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.

As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt’s future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.

We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek. Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.

The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

U.S. Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire on the Current Situation


Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release February 4, 2011
On-The-Record Briefing

U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire Phillip Carter On the Current Situation In Cote d'Ivoire

February 4, 2011

Washington, D.C.

MR. TONER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the State Department. It’s our great, good fortune to take advantage of the recently concluded, or just concluded, Chiefs of Mission Conference to have Ambassador Phillip Carter, who is our Ambassador to Cote D’Ivoire, come down to the briefing room and brief all of you on the current situation in Cote D’Ivoire.


AMBASSADOR CARTER: Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody. We’re looking at this election. When you examine it, you have to take into consideration that the November 2010 election – presidential election in Cote D’Ivoire was the culmination of years of work by the country’s national institutions as well as international – the international community with an aim to resolve a ten-year-old conflict. And the agreements that were made that led to that election, principally the Ouagadougou Political Agreement of 2007, established a process that aimed to address questions of national identity, voter registration, disarmament, reunification, as well as the conduct of those elections. And the OPA, the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, also was the agreement that invited the United Nations into the country to work on the elections and to certify them. These – this agreement, which was to certify both the presidential and legislative elections, was an agreement that was signed by at-the-time President Gbagbo, Mr. Ouattara, Mr. Bedie, Prime Minister Soro, as well as the president of Burkina Faso, President Compoare.

The first round of the elections took place. Fourteen candidates ran. Three were principal. Of the remaining 11, I don’t think any of them collectively got more than 3 percent of the vote at most, perhaps not even one. And it – the process went smoothly, 84 percent turnout – voter participation in the first round of the election, making it one of the highest voter turnouts on the planet. It was peaceful, and the results were that you had Gbagbo leading, with the second place to Ouattara, and the third place to Mr. Bedie. Bedie threw his support behind Ouattara for the second round, which had a participation rate, we understand, of about 81 percent, which is remarkably high for a presidential runoff. And there the process after the election of the second round, things became a bit more controversial.

Though the process was the same for the first and second round where the independent Electoral Commission tallied the results, reported them out. The results of the first run were then certified or endorsed by the Constitutional Council and certified by the United Nations. The process proceeded for the second round, but there pressures became clearly evident in the tallying of the second round. Intimidation was being reported in certain parts of the country, but also that – but the process continued in terms of the tallying of the results that proceeded unimpeded until everything was obtained at the Electoral Commission’s headquarters. And what we saw there was a split within the Electoral Commission trying – the commission trying to move on a consensus basis to tally the results, which they did on early Thursday morning after the election, by consensus, coming up with the 19 districts that were there. And there was a challenge in terms of how they were going to report the results out. The Electoral Commission, or the president of the Electoral Commission, had been intimidated. There were security forces throughout the commission headquarters. In the end, he reported them out at the – at a hotel, the Golf Hotel, which was essentially the – I guess you could call it – the offices of the prime minister, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, who was the prime minister of President Gbagbo at that time. And his results indicated that Alassane Ouattara won with about an 8 percent margin.

Later that day, the Electoral Commission – or the Constitutional Council declared the results of the Electoral Commission null and void, and the following day reevaluated the results, indicating that Laurent Gbagbo won with 51 percent of the vote to about 48-plus percent of Alassane Ouattara.

The United Nations, doing what it did during the first round, continued its certification process, which was incredibly rigorous and done completely independently of the national institutions in the country. And it was very rigorous, very impartial. And the results of that certification indicated that Alassane Ouattara won with about 8.2 percent margin, similar to that of the Electoral Commission. The United Nations had tried to replicate how the Constitutional Council had moved forward and was unable to do so. Eliminating parts of the vote in the north still resulted with Alassane Ouattara winning.

The issue of violence in the north was – there were incidents we noted, observers noted, but nothing that was destabilizing to the results of the election or would derail the results of the election. There was actually more violence in the western part of the country, where the – Gbagbo’s party did not contest the results. With a participation rate of 81 percent, and in some areas it’s even higher in the north, it was hard to say that people were impeded from voting.

So what we have now is a situation where we have had a good election that was transparent, democratic, attested to by the United Nations, certified by the United Nations, where it was observed by both credible national and international observer groups, including the Carter Center, the European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS, and local observer groups, and where the incumbent has refused to accept those results of a process that he himself has put in place through the agreement of other African leaders within Cote d’Ivoire as well as outside.

So what we have is a situation where we have a good election with clear results that are incontrovertible. It’s a matter of fact and a matter of interpretation of national institutions. And we have a dilemma, a national dilemma of institutions within the country between – a challenge between the Constitutional Council and the Electoral Commission having different results. The fact that the United Nations was invited in under the Ouagadougou Political Agreement is the thing that sets this process in Cote d’Ivoire apart from other elections that are coming up in Africa because of the fact that we have clear evidence as to who won that election.

The situation is now much more difficult with President – outgoing President Gbagbo holding on to the reins of power through some security forces, trying to hold on to the instruments of governance through the ministries. With President-elect Ouattara taking refuge in a Golf Hotel, protected by about 300 peacekeepers, both United Nations and French La Cornue troops, with some former elements of the – there’s this – there was this coordinating body within the local military that had the Force Nouvelle and the local forces. And some of the forces, they’ll have remained at the hotel protecting both President Ouattara as well as his newly-designated prime minister, who was the former prime minister, Guillaume Soro.

The situation is such that the country is in a sense of stasis. It’s frozen. You have – if you may recall, prior to this election, the northern part of the country was essentially in rebel territory. And the hope was that this election would be a critical and important and essential step to further unifying the country. It has not happened as a result of the refusal by President Gbagbo.

Violence has persisted in the country, particularly in Abidjan. There are credible reports of groups of militias under the control of Gbagbo going through neighborhoods that are largely populated by Ouattara supporters, pulling people from their homes, beating them. Some of them are summarily executed. Others have disappeared. The United Nations has conducted investigations, though those investigations have been impeded by the security forces controlled by President Gbagbo, indicating that around 250 – they’ve been able to certify that 250 people have been summarily executed and around a hundred have disappeared. Those numbers will likely climb.

We have President Gbagbo using the national media, the state media, particularly the television station, which is the number one outlet – or was the number one outlet for news within the country – turning it into a propaganda machine that has been spewing out basically invidious information. Some have declared it hate speech. I don’t know if I want to take it that far, but it’s been clear propaganda, largely inaccurate.

You do have the written press. There are what we call the blue journals, the blue press, which – blue is the color of Gbagbo’s party; the green press, which is the color of Ouattara’s party; and the independent, a few, that are carrying both sides of the story, both pieces. So it’s – you have to kind of wade through all of it to get an objective view.

We have also had a situation where the international community, looking at this certification the United Nations has, has supported the election of President Ouattara, Alassane Ouattara. ECOWAS, the regional African body for West Africa, has stated that he is duly elected and that he’s – that President Gbagbo should step down to allow a peaceful transition. This has been taken up by the African Union, the United Nations Security Council, as well as ourselves, the United States Government, as well as other countries, the European Union as well, and other non-European states.

The hope is that this pressure, which includes sanctions against individuals and certain specific entities on the part of the European Union as well as ourselves, both in terms of travel restrictions and certain targeted financial sanctions, coupled with President Ouattara’s efforts to claw back and try to obtain control of the national resources and national instruments of governing, specifically the central bank, which is a regional central bank for Cote D'Ivoire, which is part of the West Africa Monetary Union. He now has control of those national funds and is putting the financial squeeze on the instruments of power controlled by President Gbagbo.

The situation is tense. There have been efforts to mediate, to find a reconciliation, to find some means out of this peacefully, led by ECOWAS, the African Union. There have been efforts on the part of former South African President Mbeki, former Nigerian President Obasanjo. There was a delegation of ECOWAS presidents that went there twice. The prime minister of Kenya Raila Odinga and others have come to work with both sides, to at a minimum lift a blockade of the Golf Hotel where President Ouattara is and where he’s constrained. That has not happened. Where they have urged President Gbagbo to seek an honorable, peaceful exit to effect a transition that can move the country forward, he has resisted those offers.

And that’s where we are now. The situation is now more critical as the financial sanctions, the travel sanctions, the control of the central bank by Ouattara, are beginning to bite. And Gbagbo is beginning to feel the pressure. There’s a financial crisis within Abidjan right now as we speak and trade is slowing down. The economy is in – it’s not in freefall yet, which it soon will be if this persists, and that has regional import insofar is that Cote D'Ivoire makes up 40 percent of the economic activity of the West Africa Monetary Union, 40 percent.

So that’s the circumstances that we face. Gbagbo himself has tried to marshal support within and outside of Africa for his cause. He has tried to alienate the international community, without much effect, frankly. One thing that has to be clear is that while there are people who are looking at the situation, certain governments in Africa and outside, there is still a overwhelming international sense of unity as to the results of the election and hope for a peaceful transition of power.

So that’s the summary of the events that are there. Any questions?

QUESTION: I mean, this sounds worse than Egypt. (Laughter.) I mean, we’ve been at briefings now for, what is it, months? It feels like years, but months. How is this going to be resolved?

AMBASSADOR CARTER: Well, I think there’s a couple of things. One is that the immediate crisis that we face in Cote D'Ivoire has been going on for less than two months, since the election, and President Ouattara has been stuck in the Golf Hotel for about two months. But you’re right; the crisis of Cote D'Ivoire goes back to 1999, and this has been building for some time.

The elections were initially supposed to be held in 2005 and had been delayed and delayed and delayed, so there was real hope that these elections would take place. There’s not a controversy about the elections. They were conducted well. It’s an acceptance of one individual of those results – someone who is trying to hijack a democratic process.

How it’s going to work out is that basically this is an Ivoirian thing, it’s an African thing, and the Africans are looking at their resources and their means by which to allow for this political transition to occur as peacefully as possible. ECOWAS has indicated that should that fail, they’re looking to consider a military force, but that’s a last resort.

I expect that we’re going to see continued pressure in the diplomatic, political, and economic and financial channels to persuade, dissuade, Gbagbo from the course that he’s on. That will continue. How long that will take, it’s unclear. What we’ve seen in the context of Tunisia and Egypt and others is that there’s always – what happens accelerates sometimes. We may see that in Cote D'Ivoire. We may not. I don’t know. The context for Sub-Saharan Africa is qualitatively different than North Africa.


QUESTION: There’s some reporting that essentially any determination among the African countries to act on Ivory Coast is actually – this is in decline, that the naming of the Equatorial Guinea leader to head the AU is a sign that actually African support for doing something about Ivory Coast is dissipating. How would you react to that?

AMBASSADOR CARTER: I would say that I don’t know if that’s necessarily correct. I think what we’re seeing is efforts on the part of Gbagbo to marshal support amongst certain longstanding partners, but that the selection of President Obiang to the head of the AU was something that was cooked ahead of this crisis. This has – his election has nothing to do with the situation in Cote D'Ivoire.

But having said that, he himself, and as well as the African Union, has come out subsequent to the establishment of this commission that they put forward indicating that they still recognize President Ouattara as elected and that they’re looking for a peaceful transition.

As to point of departure here for the Africans is that the recognition that this election was a good one and that you have to honor the results of that. Trying to set – setting that election aside would be a major step back for democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, given the huge investment that was made by national institutions, the international community, the fact that the election was transparent, observed out the wazoo, and frankly, the results are factual. It’s a matter of fact, not a matter of interpretation.

I think the Africans are looking for whatever means they can to avoid conflict or to exacerbate conflict. They all recognize that the human rights abuses that are occurring in Abidjan and in the western part of the country – not necessarily in the north, which is essentially Ouattara’s – under Ouattara’s control – are something that have to be attended to. And the question of accountability is coming up, and so that window for Gbagbo to leave honorably, peacefully, with amnesty, that window is closing.

Other questions? Yes, sir.

QUESTION: The panel, the AU panel that --


QUESTION: -- that has a month or so to work, is that a realistic time frame? I mean –

AMBASSADOR CARTER: A month? I think I leave it to the African leadership to determine if that’s adequate. They’ve given themselves a month. And you have to understand that this is a culmination of other efforts on the part of the African Union. I mean, shortly after the election, former South African President Mbeki was there on the part of the African Union. You’ve had Obasanjo from Nigeria who was there on the part of the African Union. You’ve had Raila Odinga there twice on the part of the African Union. You’ve had Jean Ping and PSC Commissioner Lamamra there on the part of the African Union.

So this is just another step in that direction of them trying to do the maximum effort to avoid violence, to avoid a military intervention. It’s the last resort, which is the point that ECOWAS has put forward, which the African Union has put forward.

Whether that’s realistic in terms of achieving a goal – I mean, I would think so, provided both parties agree to engaging with this panel. I understand that President Ouattara has. But I understand that the Gbagbo side has put out some conditions that may make this effort moot.

QUESTION: Do you know when President Ouattara engaged with the panel?

AMBASSADOR CARTER: I think he issued a statement shortly after it was announced. And in French, he; he welcomed the panel. And when they arrive or whatever, he will engage with them and talk to them. But he’s waiting for their arrival.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: You said that sanctions are beginning to bite and Gbagbo is beginning to feel the pressure. What evidence is there of that?

AMBASSADOR CARTER: A couple of things. One is, as we see most recently, the financial situation in the country is getting tough. I mean, we’re seeing that the banks that have international associations are under the gun in terms of meeting the requirements of the West African Monetary Union. President Gbagbo has stated publicly that he wants to seize the assets of the office of the central bank that exists in Abidjan – not the central bank itself, but there’s an office there – to take over those assets. He has been pirating. He’s been stealing money from (inaudible) Data corporations to meet salary. He has been extorting local businesses to pay in advance their taxes, to pay things forward – contracts forward, putting increasing pressure on a variety of companies that are involved in natural resources, be it coffee, cocoa, petroleum, timber, whatever, to pay forward. They’re resisting.

And so what we’re seeing there is an effort for him to marshal as many resources as he can to get the money together to meet his payroll probably to acquire additional weapons, to keep his fight going. There’s a lot of – there’s been a lot of press about the isolation of Ouattara at the Golf Hotel. I would submit that they’re both isolated – Gbagbo within his own presidential palace and his cohorts around him, increasingly isolated within the international community, both financially, politically, diplomatically, economically. Whereas Ouattara, though he’s physically isolated at the Golf Hotel, has the support of the entire – virtually the entire international community and financial system; where he’s been able to push out some of his diplomatic representatives outside; where he’s been able to send ministers out. So what we see is time seems to be on the side of Alassane Ouattara and not necessarily on the side of Laurent Gbagbo.

Questions? Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: So could you expand a little bit more about how Mr. Gbagbo is feeling the sanctions? Because obviously, he personally doesn’t care whether his country faces –


QUESTION: -- sanctions or not. But are you saying that it’s going to be increasingly difficult for him to pretend that he’s still in power because he will not have access to money?

AMBASSADOR CARTER: Well, he is a pretender now. Let’s be clear about this.


AMBASSADOR CARTER: Okay. But the thing is – the issue at hand is that his ability to govern – in other words, he exists for what reason? He has security forces backing him up, period.

QUESTION: And if he can’t pay them, then --

AMBASSADOR CARTER: If he can’t pay them, what are they going to do? How loyal are they going to be? Let’s not underestimate the banality of things.

Any other questions?

QUESTION: Is the United States prepared to take any new steps to –

AMBASSADOR CARTER: Well, we’re looking at the full arsenal of things that we can do. I mean, we’ve taken some significant steps. One, we stand with ECOWAS. More importantly, we stand with President Ouattara. President Obama has congratulated him on his election, and we’ve engaged his government as best we can – small that it is, sequestered that it is. We work with our African partners. We’re not in the lead of this, okay. This is an African thing. So we work with ECOWAS. We’re working with the African Union. We work with our development partners, be it in the European Union or outside. We work in the context of the Security Council. I understand there’s a discussion going on in New York today on the question of Cote d'Ivoire at the Security Council.

So we are actively engaged in the diplomatic front. On the – and bilaterally, we’ve imposed travel restrictions on a number of individuals. Most recently, we imposed financial – targeted financial sanctions on five individuals, and we’re considering adding more to that list. Those five include Laurent Gbagbo; his wife, Simone Gbagbo; his diplomatic advisor, Ambassador Alcide Djedje; Desire Tagro, one of his closest associates; and the head of the political party, Gbagbo’s political party named N’Guessan. And that list will get larger. It’s quite large now by the European Union. And that will have an impact in terms of who can do business with whom in that country by the international community, too. So the bite is happening, and this month of February will – that process could very well accelerate.

Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: I mean, how long do you foresee this standoff going on? Where is the solution?

AMBASSADOR CARTER: If I knew that, I’d be --

QUESTION: That’s the million-dollar question.

AMBASSADOR CARTER: Yeah, I’d be looking at a cool ambassadorship afterwards.

QUESTION: Because it sounds like you’re just waiting for Mr. Gbagbo to run out of funds and admit that he --

AMBASSADOR CARTER: No, I mean, there’s increasing pressure. I mean, we can’t ignore the fact that there is increasing pressure. He’s having to do what he can to maintain power. I mean, it’s one of these things that – whereas Alassane Ouattara is doing what he can to gain the instruments of governance, Gbagbo is doing as much as he can to hold onto that. And day by day, his ability to hold onto them is weakened and we have to keep that pressure on. And we will continue to keep that pressure on bilaterally and multilaterally within the context of the United Nations, within the context of ECOWAS, within the context of the African Union. And we will work very closely with our African partners in supporting them in that effort.

Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Thank you.

# # #

Thursday, February 3, 2011

US Participation In Just Ended Africa Union Summit

African Union Summit High-Level Meeting on Somalia
Remarks for Deputy Secretary Steinberg

January 31, 2011; 07:30 – 09:30 am; UN Conference Center at the ECA
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The United States would like to thank the co-hosts, the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations for convening this group at a critical juncture in Somalia's history. Bringing peace to, and then rebuilding, Somalia is a long-term commitment. The United States remains deeply engaged with Somalis and the international community in the effort to stabilize Somalia. The threat from Al-Shabaab endangers the Somali people, Somalia’s neighbors, and the international community.

Al-Shabaab continues to suppress and terrorize the Somali people through extortion, threats, violence, the murder and mutilation of innocent civilians, the forced conscription of children, and the denial of desperately needed humanitarian aid. Piracy emanating from Somalia threatens international shipping, commerce, and regional development, and the ransom money flowing into Somalia and its neighbors is further destabilizing the region. Somalia is exporting instability in the form of terrorism against its neighbors as the attack in Kampala so vividly showed.

AMISOM is important and we support its expansion. But, we clearly need broad-based, inclusive, and responsible political institutions that can meet the needs of the Somali people. Although we have had high expectations for the TFG and have supported it financially, we are disappointed by the lack of progress achieved over the last several years. The TFG must increase its level of accountability and efficiency and focus on serving the Somali people.

As the drought in Somalia further exacerbates an already dire situation, these pressures weigh even more on Somalia’s most vulnerable populations.

Somali reconciliation, cooperation, and unity of purpose are needed at this time. As the August 2011 mandate for the TFG draws to an end, the TFG should consult widely, including with Somali and all its key international partners, on a pragmatic path forward that builds on the progress of the Djibouti Peace Process and avoids political mistakes of the past. Unilateral action by the TFG on next steps past August would be unacceptable. We also want to avoid starting a new lengthy and costly international political process, especially one that takes place outside of Somalia. We need to avoid a vacuum—but we cannot continue with business as usual. The future of the TFG must be the product of a dialogue among key stakeholders, including key donors and the UN.

We should build on the small accomplishments of the past two years, not begin anew but adopt expanded and enhanced approaches that will result in stability for Somalia.

I would like to comment briefly on the discussions on Sudan earlier this morning. We congratulate Sudan officials on a successful Southern Sudan referendum and applaud their efforts to create conditions that allowed voters to express their will without fear, intimidation, or coercion.

Following the preliminary results just released, we look forward to announcement of the final results in the coming week, and to the Sudanese government’s acceptance of the outcome of the referendum.

The United States is committed to working with both North and South to ensure a peaceful and more prosperous future for all Sudanese. In the coming months, we will look to the parties to continue to draw on the same spirit of cooperation that made the referendum possible as they work to reach agreement on arrangements that will define their future relationship.

Substantial work remains and both parties must remain actively engaged in negotiations that will, at the end of the interim period, lead to peaceful separation of these two states and create the basis for a long-lasting and peaceful relationship. The U.S. remains particularly concerned over the fate of Abyei, where tribal loyalty and historic movement of people continue to create tensions that could spark renewed conflict. Equally as important remain the post-referendum arrangements on border security, citizenship, revenue sharing, oil and the division of debt. Progress can only be achieved on these very tough issues through the same spirit of mutual cooperation that made the recent Southern Sudan referendum so successful.

To this end, we believe that there can be mutual benefits to a stronger U.S.-Sudan relationship. There is a clear path to that can lead to an economically strong, stable Sudan. But, to get there, the Government of Sudan also must address the situation in Darfur. We remain deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian situation there. We strongly urge the Government of Sudan to ensure that UNAMID enjoys the freedom of movement required to fulfill its mandate and to allow aid workers access to provide much needed humanitarian assistance to all Darfuris.

We also urge Sudan to take all necessary steps to create a political and security environment conducive for holding political talks on Darfur.
This includes ensuring respect for freedom of speech and assembly, as well as allowing civil society to operate free of harassment.

Chairperson Ping, Secretary General Ban, and Prime Minister Meles, thank you again for calling these very important meetings today. We look forward to continuing the discussion.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

President Obama on the Situation in Egypt


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 1, 2011


Grand Foyer

6:44 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days, the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We’ve seen enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people. We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country, and a long-time partner of the United States.

And my administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts and a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. And throughout this period, we’ve stood for a set of core principles.

First, we oppose violence. And I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We’ve seen tanks covered with banners, and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. And going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.

Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.

Third, we have spoken out on behalf of the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.

Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear -- and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak -- is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.

Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt. And we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.

Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.

To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. And I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt.

There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers. And it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum -- a new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity; a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day.

Thank you very much.

END 6:49 P.M. EST