US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson starts week-long first Africa trip

A conversation on Secretary Tillerson's March 2018 Trip to Africa

Tillerson's visit began Wednesday evening in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital and headquarters of the African Union, where he was to meet union leaders.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of State provided the funding through which the vulnerable populations are expected to secure emergency food and nutrition assistance, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid. This rhetoric implies little change in the USA agenda in Africa since the end of the cold war and may reflect apparent White House disengagement and disinterest in the world's second largest continent.

"The long reach of terrorism threatens to steal the future of countless individuals", Tillerson said in a speech at Virginia's George Mason University shortly before departing on Tuesday.

The selection of countries the secretary will visit indicates a strong emphasis on security issues. The U.S. planned to direct $128 million to help with Nigeria and the Lake Chad region nations.

The U.S. noted recent United Nations reports about some of the extremist operations in the G-5 countries and the Trans-Sahel. "Secretary Tillerson should emphasize the importance of respect for the rule of law and freedom of expression, in light of the government's recent dismissal of a court order to reopen several press outlets, and the United States' commitment to Kenyan civil society and human rights defenders, some of whom are coming under increasing pressure". Kenya faces unresolved issues related to its recent contested presidential elections. Nigeria, the giant of Africa, has established itself as a credible democracy, but goes into a 2019 election cycle that could be violent.

New York (TADIAS) - On Monday senior officials at U.S. State Department held a private briefing for members of the African Diaspora regarding Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to Africa this week.

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The secretary's trip is unlikely to advance the United States relationship with sub-Saharan Africa in any meaningful way. Democracy, human rights and development take a back seat under the Trump administration, with sharp cuts in foreign aid.

Critics argue that the Trump administration's neglect of Africa and narrow focus leaves it increasingly irrelevant to African leaders.

Amid the political crisis going on in Ethiopia and Kenya, the Secretary of State's visit to both countries will reveal what intervention measures the US plans to take on both countries.

"... The Trump administration has yet to nominate a chief US diplomat for Africa, while eight embassies, including South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia, remain without ambassadors". Democratic leaders on the other hand, notably Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari and South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, were deeply critical of the president's public denigration of Africa and Haiti.

"And I know that in the last administrations, even the last three, we have always said going to Nigeria is critical to stability and the future for the USA relationship in West Africa".

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