Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ambassador Johnnie Carson On the Nigerian Elections


Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2011

On-The-Record Briefing

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson On the Nigerian Elections

April 28, 2011
Washington, D.C.

MS. FULTON: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Very pleased today to have with us Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson to talk about the recent elections in Nigeria. He was on hand to observe personally, so he’ll be able to give you his on-the-ground accounts of the results. So without further ado, Assistant Secretary Carson.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you very, very much. Glad to be here with you this afternoon to talk a little bit about the recent elections in Nigeria. Nigeria has just completed its most successful elections since its return to multiparty democracy in 1999. Despite some technical imperfections, those elections represent a substantial improvement over the flawed 2007 electoral process. This reverses a downward democratic trajectory and provides the country a solid foundation for strengthening its electoral procedures and democratic institutions in the years to come. The Nigerian people have shown to the world their resilience and will to have their voices heard. These elections were a real opportunity to choose their leaders.

This week, Nigerian voters returned to the polls for the fourth time and final time to select their state assembly members and governors. On April 26th, all but two states held elections. Elections in Kaduna and Bauchi states occurred April 28th to give additional time for security to return to those two areas. International and domestic observers reported the April 26th elections to be generally well organized, albeit with a lower turnout in various locations compared with voter turnout earlier this month.

Following the deplorable post-election violence of the previous week, we are heartened that many Nigerian voters went to the polls to vote in an environmentally – environment largely free of violence. We remain concerned about allegations of fraud and ballot box snatching in various jurisdictions, and we strongly urge Nigerian authorities to investigate and take corrective actions on all of these allegations. We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission and especially its chairman, Professor Jega, and the security services for addressing challenges and improving their efforts with each progressive election.

We are confident that INEC leaders will continue to take steps to further improve the electoral process to ensure that some political actors do not divert to their old – revert to their old ways of subverting the will of the Nigerian electorate. We are partners in the international community, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action against individuals of any political party who seek to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, whether at the state, national, or local elections.

Again, we congratulate the people of Nigeria on holding very successful elections. Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary Carson, two questions. One, the CPC has said that it has evidence of irregularities and that it plans to go to court over those. So question one is: To what extent do you think that the existing irregularities cast a shadow on President Jonathan’s victory? Second, and in a way the more important question is: To what extent do you think that he is likely to be inclusive going forward so as to help lay to rest or to help unify the country? Would you expect or hope, for example, that when he names a cabinet he will reach out to opposition figures? Can you give us your sense of that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I hope that INEC will take seriously all allegations of election irregularity. There is no doubt in my mind that there were some imperfections, some technical problems, and probably some justified cases of rigging. But it is up to the election commission to investigate those. I do not believe that any of the irregularities or technical imperfections undermine the overall outcome of this election and that the elections do reflect the will of a majority of the Nigerian people.

I cannot say what kind of cabinet or government President Jonathan will put in place. But I do note that his vice president is, in fact, a former northern governor and that the constitution does call for the president of the country to select from individual states various cabinet members. I hope that he will act in both a responsible and inclusive manner in the selection of those individuals for his cabinet and that in doing so, he will be reaching out to heal the political divisions that were uncovered during the election process.

MS. FULTON: In the back.

QUESTION: I have a question actually about Sudan. Before we came out here, the Treasury Department pulled the Bank of Khartoum off of the sanctions list, and I wonder if you can explain that move, and then more broadly how Sudan is doing on this roadmap toward normalization with the U.S.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me say that I’m not aware of this recent decision to pull the Bank of Khartoum off the sanctions list, and so I will not comment on that.

With respect to the roadmap, we continue to see progress in the implementation of the roadmap, and we continue to encourage the Government of Sudan to continue to fulfill its obligations that remain under the roadmap. One of the most important aspects of this was the successful referenda election in South Sudan that went from January 9 to 15. That went extraordinarily well. It was largely free of violence – large turnouts, well organized, and reflected the will of the people of the South to secure their independence. We continue to encourage very strongly that the Khartoum government, the NCP, and the Southern Sudanese Government, the SPLM, to work to resolve the remaining key issues that are a part of the conclusion of the CPA. This means resolving the Abyei crisis before July 9 and resolving the issues of oil and wealth-sharing, border demarcation, as well as issues related to citizenship.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that one? Just to stay with the question of Abyei, President Bashir is quoted today as having said, quote, “If there’s any attempt to secede Abyei within the borders of the new state, we will not recognize the new state,” close quote. What is your response to that, and does that not sort of ratchet up tensions ahead of July?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me just say that those comments are not helpful at all, and they only serve to inflame and heighten tensions. It is important that both sides – those in Khartoum and those in Juba – focus intensely on trying to resolve the key issues that have not been completed under the CPA. Abyei is one of them. This must be done before July 9, and it is important that President Bashir and the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir continue to meet, negotiate to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.

MS. FULTON: Back to Nigeria?

QUESTION: Yeah. Back to Nigeria. How much do you expect these elections in Nigeria to promote efforts towards democracy in the broader region? Can you –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I think the success of the Nigerian elections are primarily of importance to the Nigerian people, but they also send a very strong signal across Africa. Nigeria is one of the two most important countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the most populous country in Africa with 150 million people. It’s also the second largest Muslim country in Africa after Egypt.

The people of Nigeria have clearly demonstrated a desire to have a democratic government, to participate in democratically-run elections, and I think this reflects a desire of many people across Africa. It also is an indication, too, that if Nigeria, with its large size and population, can, in effect, run and manage successful democratic elections, that it is possible for many of the other smaller states to do so as well. It also indicates that the democratic trajectory not only in Nigeria, but across West Africa has not stalled but continues to rise.

QUESTION: Might you be soft-pedaling the violence a little bit? I’m reading some wire material today about perhaps 500 people killed and Christian churches set afire. And also people from the elections say that they’re very discouraged by this and that they prefer to not have an election if this sort of thing happens. Might you be looking through rose-colored glasses at this sort of thing?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Absolutely not. But let me first say we deplore the violence that occurred particularly after the conclusion of the presidential elections a week and a half ago. We saw widespread violence throughout much of northern Nigeria. Both the president and the main opposition candidates – both called on their supporters to not support violent activities and to work to restore peace as quickly as possible.

I think that there has been a history of violence associated with Nigerian elections in the past. But in this election, we have clearly seen a much more responsible security force and a security presence in and around the electoral sites. So it’s important that violence not be a part of the democratic process. We deplore it, and I think senior officials in Nigeria have also deplored it as well. We hope that these elections will be a baseline for greater improvement in both their technical procedures as well as in their security as well.

MS. FULTON: Do we have time for maybe one more question?

QUESTION: Can I ask about Uganda? There are reports this morning that a fourth opposition leader has been arrested, and my question is about the U.S. – the Administration’s response. Are we considering any kind of pressure on the Ugandan Government?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: We have seen the reports of the arrest of several former presidential candidates for attempting to carry out peaceful demonstrations in Kampala that were designed to highlight rising oil and food prices. We have also seen with great concern and regret the very serious and apparent mistreatment of one of those candidates, Dr. Besigye. We have expressed our concern about what appears to be harassment of President – of Dr. Besigye. I have, myself, spoken to the Ugandan foreign minister about this and have urged that the Ugandan Government act both in a responsible and civil fashion in dealing with the arrest of individuals attempting to carry out peaceful protests.

QUESTION: When did you speak to the foreign minister about that, and was that specifically about the case that you referenced?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I spoke to the foreign minister today, and it was specifically concerning the apparent ill treatment of Dr. Besigye as well as the government’s reaction to peaceful protests by others.

QUESTION: And did the foreign minister give you any reason to believe that the government would seek to treat such people better and to show greater respect toward peaceful protesters?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: He did indeed. He said that he hoped that President Museveni would be meeting with the opposition political parties and leaders on Tuesday of next week. I urged political outreach and reconciliation to resolve the differences that the government has with opposition leaders. I also encouraged that there be a scope for civil peaceful protests and that government reaction to those protests should be tempered, responsible, and civil.

MS. FULTON: Okay. And thank you for your time, Assistant Secretary Carson.

QUESTION: Thank you.


# # #

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Joint Statement on the Second Annual U.S.-AU High Level Meeting

Office of the Spokesman


Joint Statement on the Second Annual U.S.-AU High Level Meeting

The United States and the African Union (AU) met on April 20 and 21, 2011, in Washington for the second annual U.S.-AU High Level Meeting. Talks centered on how the United States and AU can cooperate to address issues of mutual interest and promote common values in the context of our strategic partnership.

This second annual round of talks covered the full range of U.S.-Africa priorities, including promoting civilian democratic institutions; creating economic, social, and political opportunities for the African people; improving health conditions on the continent; enabling Africa to feed itself; strengthening peace and security efforts and mitigating conflict; enhancing African peacekeeping capabilities; and addressing complex transnational issues such as terrorism and trafficking in drugs and human beings.

On the situation in Libya, the United States acknowledged AU efforts to achieve a ceasefire, but reiterated the need for greater coordination with the international community. The United States noted that a ceasefire requires an immediate end to all attacks on civilians and the withdrawal of Qadhafi’s forces from all cities they have forcibly entered, occupied, or besieged. Qadhafi and his regime also should comply with their obligations under international law, international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law including protecting civilians and meeting their basic needs. Any ceasefire should pave the way to an inclusive political process in Libya, an essential element of which is that Qadhafi must leave power and Libya.
On its part, the AU highlighted the key components of its road map for peace in Libya including: i) immediate cessation of hostilities, ii) the diligent delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations, iii) the protection of foreign nationals, including African migrant workers, and iv) inclusive dialogue and a transitional period leading to political reforms.

The AU stressed that the determination of the participants in the process as well as the issue of political leadership is one that only the Libyans themselves can resolve. Furthermore, it noted this process must be guided by the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, justice, rule of law, peace and security, as well as socio-economic development.

The U.S.-AU talks provided an opportunity for the United States to reiterate its support for the critical leadership role the AU plays in promoting democracy and good governance throughout the continent. The two parties recognize that the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan would not be possible without the engagement and support of the AU, the U.S., and the rest of the international community.

The United States applauds the AU’s role in restoring democracy in Guinea and Niger and thanks the organization for its strong united position in support of legitimately-elected President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire. The United States also commends the AU's courageous peacekeeping work in Somalia, which remains one of the most fragile states in Africa and the world.

On its part, the AU delegation commends the U.S. government for its support for AU programs and activities, particularly in the area of peace and security and the improvement of the quality of lives in Africa. The AU also appreciates the support the United States provides in sustaining the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and in helping to restore democracy in Guinea and Niger, and requests continued support as the two countries strive to consolidate democracy and return to development

The AU delegation, led by AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, met with a range of senior Obama Administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Under Secretary of State William Burns, Under Secretary of State Judith McHale, Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats, Special Envoy on Sudan Princeton N. Lyman, and Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson. Both the U.S. and the AU look forward to continued engagement on the range of critical issues of interest to both parties as they strive to foster a stable and strong global community.

# # #

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Secretary Clinton And African Union Commision Chair Jean Ping


Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release

April 21, 2011


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
And African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping

Before Their Meeting

April 21, 2011

Treaty Room

Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. It’s a real pleasure for me to welcome Chairperson Ping of the African Union here to the State Department. Chairperson Ping and his delegation have been engaged in a consultation with members of our team here in Washington across our government. And we’re especially pleased about that because Africa is a matter of great significance to the Obama Administration, and we have every intention to broaden and deepen our relationship not only bilaterally with countries but also with the African Union.

I want to thank the chairperson for his personal commitment and leadership on behalf of the imperative of democratic transformation and establishment within the countries of Africa, his commitment to accountability and transparency and good governance. We wish to work with the AU in order to provide support for the programs that he has championed.

In addition, we seek the African Union’s assistance in arriving at a political solution in Libya. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 expressed the international community’s concerns about the actions of the Libyan Government under Colonel Qadhafi. Three African nations that are members of the Security Council voted for the resolution. And I appreciate what the African Union has said, urging that there be a democratic process that can be inclusive and supportive of the needs of the Libyan people, and I look forward to meeting with you now and discussing steps that we can take together.

So again, we welcome you to Washington and the State Department.

MR. PING: Thank you, Madam Secretary of State. I would like just to say that I am delighted to be here today. I’ve been received by you. It’s a pleasure for me – an honor not only on my own own capacity, but on the capacity of the African Union Commission and the whole continent.

As you have said, we are now confronted with so many problems in the continent and we need to exchange views with the rest of our partners. And in this specific context, it is good to be here today with you and to exchange views on the situation in Libya as well.

In the same time, as you know, we have started to strengthen our cooperation, multilateral cooperation with U.S.A. And this is our second meeting of that type, and we can see the difference. We started last year, the difference there in term of quality of our exchange, also the quantity of the partners with whom we have interacted.

Thank you very much for your kind invitation, and thank you for receiving us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. Again, welcome. Thank you all very much.

# # #

Vice President Biden Meets African Union's Thabo Mbeki

Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release

April 18, 2011

Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with Members of the
African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan

Vice President Biden today met at the White House with former South African President Thabo Mbeki, Chairman of the African Union (AU) High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan, along with fellow panel members, former President of Nigeria Abdulsalami Abubakar, and former President of Burundi Pierre Buyoya.

The Vice President and the delegation committed to continue their work together with the parties to resolve outstanding Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) issues by July 2011, particularly the issue of Abyei. The Vice President expressed appreciation for the Panel's role in brokering the recent commitment by Sudanese leaders to withdraw Northern and Southern forces from Abyei and underscored the commitment of the United States to coordinate our efforts regarding Sudan with the African Union.

On the critical issue of Darfur, the Vice President expressed great concern that security conditions on the ground continue to deteriorate and are further aggravated by important restrictions on peacekeepers’ and humanitarian workers’ access to vulnerable populations. The Vice President underscored the importance of ensuring the establishment of two viable states in Sudan after the South’s independence in July and stressed that a resolution to the situation in Darfur must be part of that process.

Both sides committed to working together to galvanize international support for addressing our shared interests in the coming months. The meeting builds on Vice President Biden’s trip to Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa last June that helped to build regional cooperation on CPA implementation.

The United States and the African Union

The United States and the African Union (AU) enjoy a strong partnership that continues to develop as we engage in areas of mutual interest spanning a variety of sectors. The United States and the AU formalized this partnership in August 2010 by signing a $5.8 million assistance agreement that supports projects in peace and security, democracy and governance, agriculture, health, trade, and other fields, as well as general capacity building. As further evidence of the U.S.-AU partnership, the United States and the AU initiated an annual high-level meeting in 2010 that brings together U.S. and AU officials at the cabinet-level to discuss African political and economic issues, existing initiatives, and future areas of collaboration. The United States and the AU work together to foster a more stable, democratic, and prosperous environment for citizens of Africa and the global community.

Peace and Security
Since the Department of State established the U.S. Mission to the African Union (USAU) in 2006, the U.S. Government (USG) has dedicated significant resources to supporting the AU’s peace and security programs. The United States has assisted the African Standby Force, a pan-African military corps, as it works to become fully operational. The USG has also contributed resources and expertise to the on-going development of a sound maritime strategy and to improving the medical planning capability of the AU’s Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD). The United States has also provided much-needed communication equipment and training to support the AU’s goal of developing a continental communication architecture that includes regional standby brigades and on-going peace support operations. Training is a significant component of U.S. support to the AU's peace and security initiatives, including in the areas of strategic communications, conflict monitoring and analysis, and military planning. Since 2007, the United States has provided support valued at $258 million to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), making the U.S. the largest individual financial contributor to AU peacekeeping operations in Somalia.

Democracy and Governance
The United States and the AU share a commitment to democratic principles, including free and fair elections, just transitions of power, and sound governance. To support these goals, USAID works with the AU’s Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit to improve election processes across Africa. USAID also assists the AU to promote the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance. More broadly, the USG looks to the AU as a respected voice on the continent that builds consensus on African issues among member states and stakeholders. In this context, the United States and the AU engage in substantive and frank dialogue about how to address such issues as unconstitutional changes in government in Africa.

Transnational and Global Issues
As the relationship between the USG and the AU deepens, so does the range of issues on which the two parties engage. Cross-cutting areas of interest to both the U.S. and Africa include climate change, food security, trafficking in persons, and drug trafficking, as well as youth, civil society, and information and communication technology (ICT). Recognizing the global and interconnected nature of such issues and their capacity to affect people’s social, political and economic well-being, the United States and the AU seek innovative ways to tackle these issues together to ensure peace, progress and stability.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Preview of the U.S.-AU High Level Meetings in Washington, April 20-21

A Preview of the U.S.-AU High Level Meetings in Washington, April 20-21

Michael Battle U.S. Ambassador to the African Union

African Union Chairperson Jean Ping

Washington, DC

April 20, 2011


8:45 A.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Hello, my name is Dick Custin. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center here in Washington. Not only do we have journalists from Africa, but we have them across the world on our phone lines. So I’d like to mention that this is an on-the-record briefing with Ambassador Michael Battle, the American Ambassador to the African Union, and the African Union Chairman Jean Ping.

So without further ado, I open it up to you guys. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN PING: Well, we are delighted to meet the press, as last year we are here to continue our – to strengthen our –

QUESTION: (In French.)

MODERATOR: She wants you to speak a little louder.

CHAIRMAN PING: Okay. You want me to speak in French or –

MODERATOR: In English, please.

QUESTION: No, no, no, just a little bit louder so we can hear you.

CHAIRMAN PING: Oh, okay. You’ve just arrived. (Laughter.) That’s why.

Well, I think that we are here to continue the exchange of views we had last year. We started to strengthen our cooperation with USA last year, and it was decided that this year, also (inaudible) will be visiting USA. So from last year to now, here to now, we have strengthened, clearly, concretely the cooperation with United States, and we are satisfied with the way it is – the evolution of this cooperation.

Thank you.

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: I want to welcome Chairman Ping, Commissioner Lamamra, and other members of the African Union back to the U.S. for the second round of high-level conversations between the U.S. Government and the African Union. The African continent is a very fluid continent. Things are happening with quite a degree of rapidness. And the African Union has been deeply engaged in trying to meet the issues as they arrive, and we have been partners on a lot of key issues on the continent.

This is a wonderful time to be engaged in Africa. Most of the time we hear so much about the difficulties and the challenges, but it is a continent where investment has proven to be quite profitable for those who take the risk to invest on the continent. It’s a time of tremendous celebration. A number of really positive things have happened.

Since last year, Niger has turned around; they have a very positive election moving forward. The crisis that we were confronting in Guinea-Conakry is no longer a crisis. Nigeria had successful elections just a few days ago. And there are more nations on the continent that are trending toward democracy than ever in the past.

And with the challenges, this is also a time of great hope and great hopefulness. And so I welcome the African Union leadership to engage in conversation with U.S. leaders in the next couple of days.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you very much. We’re going to open it up to the questions here in Washington to start with, so we’ll take one or two here. Does anyone have any questions?

QUESTION: Right here.

MODERATOR: Yes, yes. Could you speak into the microphone, please?


MODERATOR: Yes, and in English.

QUESTION: In English, okay. A question for both our – is it okay to ask for an answer in French, or should it all –

MODERATOR: It has to be in English.

QUESTION: It has to be in English. Not a problem. A question for both of you, Mr. Chairman Ping and Ambassador Battle: To what extent do you think the authorities you represent, namely the African Union and the U.S. Government, do you think they can help contribute to a resolution of the recent troubles in Burkina Faso? Thank you.

CHAIRMAN PING: Well, you know that we are now facing so many trouble in the continent. We have the situation in Libya, which is very, very serious. We are just trying to get out from the situation – get out the crisis from the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, and we have several other issues. And now, we are watching the situation in Burkina Faso. For the moment, it seems that the situation is not yet out of control, so it seems. So we are watching and monitoring the situation there closely with the Burkina Faso authorities.

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: And from our perspective, the bilateral mission in Burkina Faso would do the kind of monitoring that needs to be done. When I come – get engaged from the USAU, it has to do when an issue has continental consequences. We have one of the most extensive bilateral relationships on the African continent than any other nation, given the number of embassies we have, and we have very competent staff there on the ground. And as the chair says, at this point, it’s in the observational stages and waiting to see how things will develop.

MODERATOR: We’ll take one more question here in Washington, and then I’ll toss to our callers and to Carrie in South Africa. But could I remind you to identify yourself and your news organization before you ask your question, please?

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Adam Ouologuem. I’m from Mali. I’m the Washington bureau chief of the African Sun Times. Ambassador Jean Ping, what do you think of the situation in Libya? Do you think the solution is military? And also, all of the country in the world are struggling with the high pricing of the food, which has a deep impact in the whole world and mostly in Africa. And do you think that – in – at the U – AU, do you have a policy in that regard? And what is the financial situation of your institution, which is struggling, as we know? Thank you.

CHAIRMAN PING: So many questions in one. (Laughter.)

Well, concerning Libya, it has been said by everybody, including NATO, that the solution in Libya is not the military solution. And we have observed from the last meeting in Doha that we are moved now from the military activities to a research of a political solution to Libya. For us, we have never been with the military solution. We have – since the beginning, we thought that the situation in Libya should be solved in a political way, and our roadmap is clear enough concerning the solution in Libya.

We have been interacting with the rest of the world. Recently, I have participate for the first time in the Doha meeting. And we are exposed to the rest of the participants, the roadmap of the African Union, and we have interact with them and we continue to interact with them.

Now the second question concerned the food crisis. Well, you know that the food crisis happened suddenly, and Africa was confronted with this crisis, probably more than the rest of the continent due to the fact that the majority of our food consumption is imported. And we realize that even if you have possibilities to buy food, there were no food in the market. And the few you find, prices just move up because of speculation. So we had riots, food riots, in the continent.

We have to draw lessons from this. One of the lesson is that we cannot continue to believe in the Washington consensus that the state have nothing to do with food; it’s a question of the market only. No. That’s why we decided in (inaudible) that government should invest at least 10 percent of their budget, sometimes more, in food. Because at the end of the day, who’s going to build small roads in the rural areas to bring product in the market? It cannot be the market itself. It should be – state should invest with private sector to build these small roads in rural area, to bring food in the market, to help the market, and also to help the (inaudible) to know what happen in the market, and they’re using cell phone (inaudible) – for them to know the price in the market, to know when the transportation is coming, to deal with the whole trend of production, including conservation. All these needs the help of the state.

So we have been taking measures concerning food crisis. We have a program which is called CADEP, and this program would benefit from the help of the financial institutions. Bilaterally, United States has put – set a number of fund for food security. So we have to prepare our countries to submit to this institution credible requests. Some of them don’t know exactly what to do, and we are helping them.

The third questions – question dealing with our financial situation; I don’t know why this question was raised. Maybe somebody told you that we are in a financial crisis. We are not in a financial crisis. Maybe because you know that some of our major contributors have some problems at home, such as Egypt or Libya. But Egypt is going to pay its contribution.

MODERATOR: Okay. We’re going to move over to the phone lines now, and I’ll pass the baton to Carrie Denver in South Africa.


MS. DENVER: Great. Thank you so much. First, I want to remind all the callers to please press *1 to enter the question queue. And our first question will be from Kevin Kelly with the Nation Media Group in Kenya.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks for taking the question, thanks for the conference call. I’m interested in learning more about the AU’s position on the International Criminal Court. You’re all aware that it’s a very big issue right now in Kenya, with six accused figures facing charges at the court for their alleged roles in the post-election violence. There’s been an effort in Kenya to have a local tribunal hear those cases, after Kenya was given opportunities in the past to arrange such a tribunal and didn’t. My understanding is the African Union is skeptical about the ICC’s role in Africa because so far everybody, I think, that’s been charged is African. I’m wondering what your position is officially on this and whether you think the ICC can play a useful role in Africa. And isn’t it true in most of the cases the ICC was invited into those countries by the governments involved? Thank you.

CHAIRMAN PING: Well, I think you have replied yourself to the questions. The question was in two part, the question and the reply. We – you have to make a distinction between impunity and some institutions. African Union is committed to fight impunity. It is in our charter, and probably its only charter of this, an international organization who is dealing with impunity. Impunity is in the constitutive act. So we have to fight impunity. It is clear enough. There is no question about it.

In practical also, we have two tribunal now in Africa – the International Tribunal for Rwanda was been doing for years this job without any problem, condemning, judging without any problems, and the International Tribunal for Sierra Leone also doing this job. These tribunal are comparable to the tribunal of Yugoslavia who have judged Milosevic. It’s not ICC who has judged Milosevic.

So first, we have to fight impunity. Second, it is going on in the continent with these two tribunals and with others also. Now, concerning ICC, we have been complaining, as you have mentioned rightly, on the double standard and also on the certain numbers of activities. We are not – ICC comprised 30 African countries member of ICC. I would like to remind you that we are here in the United States; they are not member of ICC, but we have 30 African members of ICC committed to ICC.

So the problem is not fighting impunity, the problem is not if we are committed to do that, the problem is the justice of man, of men, how it has been rendered. Everything – people who are target there all over the map, exclusively Africans, as if nothing is going on in Sri Lanka, nothing in Gaza, nothing in Pakistan, nothing in Georgia, nothing here and there, just to mention a few. Why this double standard? We are questioning ourself on that.

Secondly, the problem of timing in the continent – we have to solve the problems concerning peace and security, concerning justice, concerning reconciliation, concerning a certain number of things which we have to deal with. You cannot say that justice is above peace and security. All peace and security is above justice. We have to take all these questions in a holistic manner. Otherwise, you will create more problem than solving them. I want to remind you just what South Africa did with justice, peace, and reconciliation. Everybody applaud. Why you applaud there, you don’t applaud somewhere else, if we want also to take this on a similar basis – peace, justice, reconciliation?

And you’ve mentioned the case of Kenya as an example. First of all, Kenya is a member of ICC. It’s a sovereign state who have chosen to be member of ICC. They could not – they could have stayed like United States and not member of ICC. But they have chosen themselves to be member of ICC. And they say they are committed to peace, justice in ICC. What they have asked is that Article 16, which is in the treaty – you have put in the treaty an Article 16. You don’t want it to be used. Why? It is there to be used, and Kenya will ask a deferment according to the rule of ICC, and these deferment is to help them themselves to make justice.

The international justice is based on the principle of severity. If you have a criminal at all, if you can judge it correctly, you see there is no need to move up. If you can’t judge it, then you could move to original organization or to an international organization. So Kenya say that I’m ready. Give me – as in conformity of Article 16, give me 12 month to put my own tribunal, and we promise that we will judge. What is wrong with that?

MODERATOR: Carrie, go ahead.

MS. DENVER: Okay. The next question comes from our – the U.S. Embassy in Gabon.

QUESTION: I have two questions to Mr. Ping. Do you have an idea what the U.S. military intervention in Libya cost? And how big is the military capacity of Africa Union?

CHAIRMAN PING: Well, I couldn’t follow properly. You are talking about a military invasion of U.S.A. in Libya? That is –

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: And he asked about the military capacity of the African Union.

QUESTION: That was the second question

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: Yeah. The second question. Yeah.

CHAIRMAN PING: This is the second part.


CHAIRMAN PING: What about the first? Could you repeat it clearly? The first part of a military invasion?

QUESTION: Do you have an idea U.S. military intervention in Libya cost?


MODERATOR: A military intervention – the cost, I believe – cost of military – U.S. military intervention in Libya.

CHAIRMAN PING: Oh, no. It’s huge probably. It’s huge – (laughter.) – as all of this intervention. I think it’s difficult to talk about a United States intervention and military intervention in Libya. There – a resolution has been adopted in Security Council Resolution 1973, and this resolution talk about a no-fly zone. It is in conformity with this resolution that a coalition of countries decided to implement the no-fly zone. And the United States, France, and UK used to be the first to intervene according to this – the decision taken in Paris. Now it’s NATO whose military intervening there. So you can imagine that, of course, it’s huge in general. I don’t know that cost, but it is certainly a very, very important financial contribution for that.

The second part of your question, concerning – concern the military capacity of Africa, no?

QUESTION: African Union.

CHAIRMAN PING: African Union. Well, if you are talking in general about our military capacity, I can tell you. If you are talking our military intervention in Libya, we don’t have any military intervention in Libya. We have a political solution concerning Libya with a roadmap, with a contact group, and – but we don’t have a military intervention in Libya. But talking in general, I want to tell you that we have an architecture on peace and security. And in this framework, we have a standby force, which is operational with five brigade – regional brigade – and I want to tell you that also we have intervening military in Somalia. We are there alone, intervening military in Darfur with United Nations. So this is to give you an idea of our capability, military capability, in general. But we are not military present in Libya.

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: I’d like to follow up on your question, in part, because of the impression that your question gave – the impression was that the U.S. invaded Libya, which is not the case. The chairman was very correct in indicating that Resolution 1973 gave rise to the U.S. participation and a larger coalition engaged to prevent what was believed to have been a very possibility of quite a bit of slaughter in Benghazi. The chairman is absolutely correct in his statement that a political solution is the inevitable direction that the crisis in Libya will be solved. There is, at this point, a two-track process. One, being the military, and as the chairman indicated, that the African Union itself is not militarily engaged in Libya but has consistently focused on the political process.

But that’s a two-track process, given the reality of Resolution 1973, which was a United Nations resolution. It was not a U.S. resolution. In fact, the U.S. took its time in deliberation on 1973. But once 1973 was passed, then the U.S. and some other nations fulfilled what it sensed to be its obligation under 1973. But it is very, very clear that inevitably any kind of long-term stability in Libya and other parts of the world will have to grow out of a political process. And that political process is – it’s fully engaged with the AU being at the table and Cairo also at the table and Doha and then present at separate meetings in London and Brussels and here in the U.S., where I’m sure the issue of Libya will also emerge as a part of the discussion. So the political process as well as the implementation of Resolution 1973, where everything that is done has to be in that context – that’s a United Nations context; it is not a U.S. context.

MODERATOR: Carrie, we have time for one more question. We have five minutes, so if you have a quick question on your end, we’ll be happy to take it.

OPERATOR: Okay. We’ll take the next question from our Embassy in Togo.

QUESTION: Okay. This is Silvio Combey from Crocodile News in West Africa, Lome, Togo. My question is: It has become obvious that post-electoral clashes are (inaudible) in Africa with regards to what’s happening in Cote d'Ivoire. What’s going to be the degree of the involvement of AU in the next coming election in Africa?

CHAIRMAN PING: Well, this is a very big issue. Since the violence occurred in Kenya and in Zimbabwe, we really tried to notice that violence can come from elections. Then we decided ourself to monitor all the elections, to have prevention and to have management and conflict resolution in case of the violence occur during the election. So we have a team of wise men who we’ll ask to study and to give us study on post-electoral conflict and also in term of prevention of the violence.

So in term of prevention, we have – when we’re noticed that the violence can occur in a country, which has happened a certain number of time, we decide to send a team generally of former head of states to go in that country, to investigate, and to help them in, for instance, signing a code of conduct, all the candidate sign a code of conduct. And we succeeded in several countries in avoiding violence but also, more than avoiding violence, making that the result of elections are accepted by everybody. So this is in term of prevention.

In term of management, we generally send a team long time in advance. In the past, the team was sent just to monitor elections, but now we send a team to monitor elections several weeks before the election in order to go to investigate not only in the capital, but to see how the election are organized in the whole country with the others – observers – international observers, African observers, and during the elections and after the election in order to avoid violence during the election.

This is the situation which is now our day, going in all the elections organized in the continent. We monitor them and we take actions.

MODERATOR: Okay. I’m afraid that’s all the time we have today. I’d like to thank our callers from across Africa as well as our journalists here in Washington, and of course, our guests, Ambassador Battle and Chairman Ping. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

# # #

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Readout of President Obama's Call with President Quattara


Office of the Press Secretary


April 12, 2011

Readout of President Obama’s call with President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire

President Obama called President Alassane Ouattara today to congratulate him on assuming his duties as the democratically elected President of Cote d’Ivoire. President Obama offered support for President Ouattara’s efforts to unite Cote d’Ivoire, restart the economy, restore security, and reform the security forces. The President reiterated his admiration for the extraordinary potential of the Ivorian people, and the two leaders discussed the importance of reestablishing normal trade and assistance relationships to jumpstart the Ivoirian private sector.

The two leaders also reiterated the importance of ensuring that alleged atrocities are investigated and that perpetrators – regardless of which side they supported – are held accountable for their actions, and committed to support the roles of the United Nations commission of inquiry and the International Criminal Court in investigating abuses. President Obama welcomed President Ouattara’s commitment to provide security and advance the aspirations of all Ivoirians, and said that the United States will be a strong partner as President Ouattara forms an inclusive government, promotes reunification and reconciliation, and responds to the current humanitarian situation.


Monday, April 11, 2011

President Obama on Latest Development in Cote d'Ivoire


Office of the Press Secretary


April 11, 2011

Statement by the President on Cote d’Ivoire

The United States welcomes the decisive turn of events in Cote d’Ivoire, as former President Laurent Gbagbo’s illegitimate claim to power has finally come to an end. This represents a victory for the democratic will of the Ivoirian people, who have suffered for far too long through the instability that followed their election. Today, the people of Cote d'Ivoire have the chance to begin to reclaim their country, solidify their democracy, and rebuild a vibrant economy that taps the extraordinary potential of the Ivoirian people.

In the four months that have passed since Alassane Ouattara was elected President, the United States and international community have strongly supported the results of Cote d’Ivoire’s democratic election, and the right of the Ivoirian people to determine their own destiny. These results came after several years of support by the international community for Cote d’Ivoire’s peace and democratic processes. The United Nations Security Council, members of the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have all worked to advance the goal of a democratic Cote d’Ivoire in which the rule of the people is stronger than the rule of one man. The United States commends the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire and French forces for the actions that they have taken to protect civilians.

For President Ouattara and the people of Cote d'Ivoire, the hard work of reconciliation and rebuilding must begin now. President Ouattara will need to govern on behalf of all the people of Cote d'Ivoire, including those who did not vote for him. All militia groups should lay down their weapons and recognize an inclusive military that protects all citizens under the authority of President Ouattara. The victims and survivors of violence deserve accountability for the violence and crimes that have been committed against them. The international community must continue to support the people of Cote d’Ivoire as they turn the page to a more hopeful and democratic future. In that effort, a democratic Cote d'Ivoire that respects the rights of its people will always have a friend in the United States of America.


Friday, April 8, 2011

President Obama on the 17th Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda


Office of the Press Secretary


April 7, 2011

Statement by the President on the 17th Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda

Seventeen years ago today, the world watched as an unimaginable slaughter began to unfold in Rwanda. One hundred horrific days later, more than 800,000 innocent people—men, women, and children—lay dead in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Today, we join the Rwandan people in honoring the memory of the loved ones they lost so senselessly, and we reaffirm the lessons of that tragic chapter in history. For just as the Rwandan genocide exposed man’s capacity for evil, it also revealed man’s capacity for good—courageous Rwandans who risked their lives to save friends and neighbors from the massacre. As an international community, we must summon the same courage to ensure that such mass atrocities and genocides never happen again.

Today we also reflect on Rwanda’s progress. Out of the ruins of genocide, Rwandans have welcomed home refugees and former combatants and worked to build a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic society for all it citizens. And as a leading contributor to peacekeeping missions around the world, Rwanda reminds us of our obligations to each other as fellow human beings, and our shared responsibility to prevent attacks on innocent civilians, as the international community is doing today in Libya. As they reflect on this painful day, Rwandans must know that the United States will be their partner in pursuit of the secure and peaceful future that they and their children deserve.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ambassador Johnnie Carson to Observe Nigeria’s Elections


Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
April 6, 2011

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson to Observe Nigeria’s Elections

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson will travel to Nigeria April 8-11 to observe the country’s National Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, April 9. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the National Assembly elections on April 2 due to delays in the delivery of voting materials to polling stations across the country.

In remarks at the Woodrow Wilson Center on April 5, Assistant Secretary Carson commented that, “we share the disappointment of the electoral commission and of the Nigerian people that this important electoral event had to be postponed, and we renew our call for credible and transparent elections in this critically important country. If Nigeria’s elections are not a significant improvement over 2007, and if the current elections do not meet the expectations of a majority of voters, the Nigerian people will lose confidence in their leaders, their democratic institutions, and the capacity of Nigeria to sustain a positive democratic trajectory. We believe Nigeria has an historic opportunity to allow the Nigerian people the opportunity to elect their local, state and national representatives in a climate free of violence and intimidation. We hope that opportunity will not be lost.”

# # #

17th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda


Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
April 7, 2011


17th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

We pause today to reflect upon one of humanity’s darkest hours and pay our respects to the victims killed brutally and needlessly in the 100 days of carnage in Rwanda in 1994. On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I extend our deepest sympathies to all Rwandans who lost loved ones, friends, neighbors, and colleagues in the genocide.

For the last 17 years, Rwandans have worked to rebuild their lives and chart a new course for their country’s future. Refugees and former combatants have returned and are living and working together throughout the country. Rwanda has worked to hold accountable those responsible for the tragic events of 1994.

Today, Rwanda's economy is growing, investment and tourism are on the rise, and relationships with neighboring countries are being rebuilt. Rwanda has sent peacekeepers to United Nations missions in Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and most recently Haiti. It has spoken out against attacks on civilians in Libya, providing a powerful perspective on the urgency of humanitarian action.

The United States commends Rwanda's efforts to improve the well-being of its citizens, ensure accountability, and promote peace, stability, and development. As you remember the victims of 1994, know that the United States stands with you as we work together to build a secure, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic nation for yourselves, your children, and generations to follow.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Secretary Clinton On Inauguration of Nigerian President & Parliament


Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release

April 6, 2011


Inauguration of the Republic of Niger’s President and Parliament

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I offer my deepest congratulations to the people of the Republic of Niger on the inauguration of your newly-elected President and Parliament.

This historic moment marks Niger’s return to constitutional and democratic rule. The people of Niger exercised their right to choose their government in a free and fair election. President Mahamadou Issoufou and all Members of Parliament now have the opportunity to strengthen Niger’s democratic institutions, protect the rights of its people, and expand the tenets of democracy to benefit all of Niger’s citizens.

The United States is committed to Niger’s future. We look forward to working with those leaders who promote democratic principles to advance the well-being, development, and security of the Nigerien people.