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US Secretary of State Warns African Dictators at African Union

On June 13, 2011, in a statement at the African Union in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia (here) the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton challenged African leaders  to  promote democracy, economic growth, and  peace and security.

“.. the United States seeks new and dynamic partnerships with African peoples, nations, and institutions. We want to help you accelerate the advances that are underway in many places and collaborate with you to reverse the dangerous trends and encourage political, economic, and social progress, ” said the US Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State praised the countries of Botswana, Ghana, and Tanzania for being the role models of democracy in Sub-Sahara Africa and invited their neighbors to emulate their example.  She also cited Nigeria, Malawi, Benin, Niger, Kenya, Guinea and even Ivory Coast for making strides towards democracy.

Countries like Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia, not long ago led by a “new breed of leaders,”  according to US President Billl Clinto, did not even qualify for a mention in the area of democracy. Instead  Ms. Hillary Clinton said that: “But, even as we celebrate this progress, we do know that too many people in Africa still live under longstanding rulers, men who care too much about the longevity of their reign, and too little about the legacy that should be built for their country’s future. Some even claim to believe in democracy – democracy defined as one election, one time,” a statement that received most of the applause and standing ovation.

According to sources in Addis Abeba, the statement appears to target  the leaders of  Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia,  Erythrea,  and Zimbabwe. In fact,  US Secretary of State Clinton’s s speech follows recent reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accusing the Rwandan Government of grave human rights abuses and repression. Last month, the British  police and intelligences services also warned Rwandans opposition leaders of assassination attempts  directed against them  by Rwandan intelligence operatives.   In the same month, Ugandan political opposition leader Kizza Besigye was mistreated by Ugandan security forces and has been in USA for medical treatment.

The statement also comes as the Rwandan dictator President Paul Kagame was wrapping up a visit in the  United States, during which he met widespread protests  by Americans, Canadians, Rwandans, Congolese,  and Burundians. The protesters,  who filled the streets of  the city of Chicago  surrounded  the four star  hotel where Paul Kagame held a banquet, accused the Rwandan dictator of corruption, assassination of six million congolese and Rwandans, genocide,  war crimes and crimes against humanity. The banquet was attended by paid Rwandan government supporters from Rwanda, Canada, and the United States and according to estimates,  costed US $600,000, a good fortune in a country where the average family lives on less than one dollar a day.

The US Secretary of State gave a warning to these leaders: “Now, this approach to governing is being rejected by countries on this continent and beyond. Consider the changes that have recently swept through North Africa and the Middle East. After years of living under dictatorships, people have demanded new leadership; in places where their voices have long been silenced, they are exercising their right to speak, often at the top of their lungs. In places where jobs are scarce and a tiny elite prospers while most of the population struggles, people – especially young people – are channeling their frustration into social, economic, and political change.

Their message is clear to us all: The status quo is broken; the old ways of governing are no longer acceptable; it is time for leaders to lead with accountability, treat their people with dignity, respect their rights, and deliver economic opportunity. And if they will not, then it is time for them to go.”

On a positive note, Rwanda along with  Zambia, Mali, and Ghana was praised for its economical successes.

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