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Clinton: America Wants Sustainable Partnerships in Africa

August 01, 2012

by Anne Look

DAKAR, Senegal — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says America wants sustainable partnerships with African nations - as part of President Barack Obama’s comprehensive strategy on sub-Saharan Africa. The top U.S. diplomat praised Senegal as a model democratic and economic partner.

Clinton kicked off her 10-day tour of Africa Wednesday in Dakar. "Africa," she said, "needs partnership, not patronage."

"Throughout my trip across Africa this week, I will be talking about what it means - about a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it. That’s America’s commitment to Africa," said Clinton.

Clinton spoke at the Cheikh Ante Diop University following a meeting with Senegalese President Macky Sall.

Sall was elected in March following deadly anti-government protests and a tightly contested election that gave way to a peaceful, democratic transition of power.

Clinton lauds Senegal

Clinton praised Senegal as a "champion of democracy" and a "true partner and friend" of the United States.

"If anyone doubts whether democracy can flourish in African soil, let them come to Senegal. Americans admire Senegal as one of the only countries in West Africa never to have a military coup," she said.

However, the secretary noted that two neighboring countries - Mali and Guinea-Bissau - demonstrate all the work that remains to be done on the continent. Both countries are struggling to return to constitutional order following military coups this year.

US Secretary of State warns African leaders

Clinton said revolts in North Africa have shown that "the old ways of governing are no longer acceptable" and that leaders who hold on to power for their own personal enrichment are "on the wrong side of history."

"There are still too many places in this region and across the continent where democracy is threatened, where human rights are abused, where the rule of law is undermined," said Clinton. "There are still too many Africans living under autocratic rulers who care more about preserving their grip on power than promoting the welfare of their citizens. Violent extremism, transnational crime, and rampant corruption all threaten democracy."

Clinton has a busy itinerary during the next 10 days, including stops in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.

It is her first African tour since the Obama administration unveiled its new Africa policy. The policy has four pillars: strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting development.

Advancing American partnership

Africa is home to some of the world's fastest growing economies and populations, and Clinton underscored why American partnership is in their long-term interest.

"This link between democracy and development is a defining element of the American model of partnership," she said. "We want to add value to our partners, and we want to add value to people’s lives. So the United States will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way, to keep the resources flowing. Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will."

Clinton tied the concept of development firmly to democracy in what some analysts have suggested is America’s intention to try to counter China’s economic dominance in Africa. Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at London-based think tank Chatham House, said this tour is about "drumming up business for American companies."

"Over the last year, there's been a significant push by the Obama administration to ensure that U.S. companies are more aggressive looking for market access and share," said Vines. "This is also kind of a delayed response to what China's been doing. Sub-Saharan Africa now is seen as more a continent of opportunity than risk and U.S. companies have been traditionally, except in the oil business, extremely conservative."

Clinton travels next to Uganda - where the U.S. has provided military advisors to assist in wiping out the Lord’s Resistance Army - which has been a destabilizing force in central Africa for more than two decades.

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