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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken eyes African crises, says continent should reform

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Mr. Blinken mentioned rising extremism, rising authoritarianism and exploding corruption in Africa are imperiling democracy, human rights and the way forward for a large portion of the world’s inhabitants.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday referred to as on African nations to heed warnings posed by crises in Ethiopia and Sudan, take severely fashionable calls for for higher governance and enact reforms.

In a speech outlining U.S. President Joe Biden administration’s coverage towards the continent, Mr. Blinken mentioned rising extremism, rising authoritarianism and exploding corruption in Africa are imperiling democracy, human rights and the way forward for a large portion of the world’s inhabitants.

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Mr. Blinken delivered the message in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, a day after telling Nigerian leaders and officers in Kenya the day earlier than that the U.S. is trying to them for outcomes, together with setting examples for his or her Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts.

“Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world,” he mentioned in an handle on the Abuja-based headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States regional bloc.

He cited threats to free speech and freedom of meeting which were on the rise and that civilian governments in Africa have been toppled at the least 4 instances this 12 months.

“Meanwhile, governments are becoming less transparent,” Mr. Blinken mentioned.

“We see this happening across Africa – leaders ignoring term limits, rigging or postponing elections, exploiting social grievances to gain and maintain power, arresting opposition figures, cracking down on the media, and allowing security services to enforce pandemic restrictions brutally.” Mr. Blinken mentioned the Biden administration is awaiting the findings of just lately concluded probes into allegations of brutality by Nigerian police because it seeks Abuja’s management extra broadly in bother spots comparable to Ethiopia and Sudan.

“The threats posed by violent extremists, criminals and internal armed conflict are very real. So is their potential to destabilise nations and regions, undermine development and ignite humanitarian disasters,” he mentioned.

“Part of the answer is effective and professional security forces and local law enforcement that can protect citizens while respecting human rights.” Nigeria’s safety forces have lengthy been accused of human rights violations of their operations, with personnel concerned typically escaping justice.

In October 2020, the military opened fireplace at an indication within the nation’s financial hub the place a whole bunch have been protesting in opposition to police brutality, killing 11 folks and injuring many others, in response to a government-backed panel.

Mr. Blinken mentioned the U.S. is trying ahead to seeing the complete outcomes of the investigation and can decide on arms gross sales to Nigeria primarily based partly on the findings and whether or not these accountable are held accountable.

“We anticipate and look to the state and the federal government’s response to the findings and expect those to include steps that ensure accountability and address the grievances of the victims and their families,” he mentioned at a Thursday information convention with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.

Explained: Ethiopia’s political disaster

Mr. Blinken’s go to to Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation and largest economic system – is the second cease on a three-nation tour of the continent that began in Kenya and can finish in Senegal.

After focussing in Nairobi on the crises in Ethiopia and Sudan, Mr. Blinken sought to current a broader image in Nigeria, a rustic of greater than 200 million that’s grappling with many challenges, together with extremist violence by Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province within the northeast, kidnapping for ransom and armed violence within the northwest and central components of the nation, and secessionist actions within the south.

In search of peace, Nigeria should “build on community-led intelligence, invest in communities where there is a disconnect between government and communities, particularly at the local level, (while) the early warning mechanisms on the ground need to be strengthened,” Chris Kwaja, nation director of the United States Institute of Peace in Nigeria, informed The Associated Press.

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