Obama to meet Jonathan, other African leaders on Boko Haram threat
The threat posed to Africa’s security by Islamic militants will top the agenda when President Barack Obama of the United States of America holds a summit for African leaders, including President Goodluck Jonathan, next week in Washington D.C.
It is expected to discuss kidnappings and killings by Boko Haram in Nigeria, the civil war in South Sudan and deadly attacks by the Somalia militant group, Shebab, in Kenya.
Invitations were sent to 50 heads of state and government for the three-day meeting that is also seen as a counterweight to China’s decade-long surge in investment and trade with Africa.
Only four presidents were excluded: Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Eritrea’s Issaias Afeworki and the Central African Republic’s transitional leader Catherine Samba Panza.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa could find itself at the centre of talks,although the leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia have cancelled their trips to Washington over the epidemic, which was first declared at the beginning of the year in Guinea and has so far claimed more than 725 lives.
President Obama said yesterday that delegates to the summit from Ebola-hit areas would be screened for the disease.
“Folks that are coming from these countries that have even a marginal risk, or an infinitesimal risk of having been exposed in some fashion, we’re making sure we’re doing screening on that end as they leave the country,” Obama told reporters.
He added there would be “additional screening” in the United States for the summit.
“We feel confident the procedures we have put in place are appropriate,” Obama insisted.
The United States, working through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies, was also planning to “surge some resources down there and organization to these countries that are pretty poor and don’t have a strong public health infrastructure so that we can start containing the problem.”
Obama sought to reassure the public that the Ebola virus was not easily transmitted.
“The key is identifying, quarantining, isolating those who contract it and making sure that practices are in place that avoid transmission,” Obama said.
“It can be done, but it’s got to be done in an organized, systematic way and that means we have to help these countries accomplish that.”
President François Hollande of France,way back in May hosted the Presidents of Nigeria,Chad,Niger and Cameroun to map out strategy on containing terrorism in West Africa.
Nigeria and its neighbours agreed,at the Paris mini-summit, on a regional plan of action to combat Boko Haram.
They pledged cooperation including joint border patrols and sharing intelligence to find the over 200 school girls abducted in Chibok by Boko Haram in April.