Clinton heads across Africa to Uganda, S. Sudan
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took off Thursday for the next stops in her seven-nation tour of Africa, flying across the continent from Senegal to Uganda and South Sudan for security talks with those countries’ leaders.
Clinton left Dakar on Thursday for the Ugandan capital of Kampala, where officials are dealing with an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Uganda’s remote west that has killed 16 people and infected 20 more.
The U.S. has sent a small number of special forces troops to help African militaries combat the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony in Uganda. Clinton will visit a military base for a briefing about the hunt for Kony as well as the African Union mission against the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab in Somalia.
Clinton plans to briefly visit the world’s newest country, South Sudan, on Friday. Officials say Clinton will be stressing the importance of resolving differences between Sudan and one-year-old South Sudan that threaten to reignite what had been Africa’s longest-running civil war when it ended with a historic peace treaty in 2005.
The two nations face a Thursday deadline set by the U.N. Security Council to settle their disputes over oil and territory or face potential sanctions. With a full resolution unlikely, officials say that deadline is likely to be extended if enough progress is deemed to have been made in talks.
Growing concerns about persistent terrorist threats from splintered al-Qaida groups across Africa have triggered an increase in U.S. military funding across the continent. Already this year, the Pentagon has poured more than $82 million into counterterrorism assistance for six African countries, with more than half of that going to Uganda, a key ally in the fight against al-Shabab.
The assistance, according to the State Department’s latest report on terrorism, may be starting to show some results in Somalia. But across Africa, the number of terrorist incidents increased by about 11.5 percent last year.
During a speech in Dakar Wednesday, Clinton challenged Africa’s elite to fully respect human rights and she warned of the consequences of rampant abuses, corruption and intolerance that breed contempt and contribute to instability.
“There are still too many places in the region and across the continent where democracy is threatened, where human rights are abused, and the rule of law is undermined,” Clinton said. “Too many Africans still live 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.”
She said America would stand by African reformers and praised Senegal for its democratic history.VOA