Blinken presents the benefits of democracy during a visit to Senegal
Ease Tensions US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a meeting with India’s Foreign Minister on the sidelines of the G20 World Leaders Summit on October 30, 2021 at the Majestic Hotel in Rome. AFP PHOTO
Dakar, Senegal: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday (Manila Sunday) pledged new investments in Senegal in a bid to show the benefits of democracy as he wraps up his first visit to Africa.
The senior US diplomat sought to offer a more nuanced view of the US’s growing rivalry with China, showing how the US can offer partnerships without too much pressure on African leaders to shirk its ever-growing commercial ties with Asian power.
During a visit to Senegal, Blinken participated in the signing of billion dollar contracts with American companies. They included a technological contract with the public security services and a project to reduce congestion through better road development.
He also visited the Institut Pasteur where he pledged support to help Africans make their own vaccines. President Joe Biden has pledged to donate more than a billion doses worldwide.
âThe United States is committed to strengthening our partnerships across the continent so as to serve the interests of the people here, to serve our own interests.
“We firmly believe that it is high time to start treating African countries and institutions like the major geopolitical players they have become.”
– ‘Opportunity’ -I
In a speech in Nigeria on Friday, Blinken said Africans did not need to choose partners, a sentiment welcomed by Senegalese Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall.
âThere is no choice, there are only choices,â she said. âAfrica is an opportunity.
“Our diplomacy is about sovereignty and doesn’t exclude anyone. But we also have traditional friends and historic partnerships and we don’t throw old ones for new ones.”
Senegal has long been one of the most stable nations in Africa, with successful peaceful power transitions.
But tensions have erupted between President Macky Sall’s government and the opposition this year, with riots erupting in March after an opposition figure was arrested.
A few days after the last detention of an opposition leader, Blinken intervened.
âSenegal has long served as a democratic model in sub-Saharan Africa,â he said.
“Like all democracies, including the United States, we cannot take for granted – Senegal cannot take for granted – democratic standards and institutions,” he added. Blinken, at every stop on his tour of Africa, acknowledged the recent political violence in the United States.
While in Senegal, he also took the time to warn Moscow that Washington was closely monitoring the activities of the shadowy Russian mercenary group Wagner in Mali.
He backed recent sanctions imposed by the West African economic bloc of ECOWAS against key members of Mali’s military junta in an attempt to force them to hold the elections promised early next year.
“I would only add that I think it would be particularly unfortunate that outside actors commit themselves to making things even more difficult and complicated, and I am thinking in particular of groups like the Wagner group in Mali”, he said. -he declares.
– Climate message –
While Blinken’s praise and pledges of help met with a welcome response in Senegal, President Joe Biden’s focus on climate change drew mixed reactions during his trip to three countries.
At the recent COP 26 summit in Glasgow, the Biden administration backed calls for a transition from fossil fuels responsible for the severe deterioration of the global climate.
Blinken promised that the United States will support developing countries in the transition.
But while Kenya, Blinken’s first step, has acted aggressively on the environment, Nigeria and Senegal both view fossil fuels as essential money generators, with Senegal poised to become a major gas producer.
Tall Sall wondered if the world could switch entirely to renewables such as solar and wind.
“We believe that is not enough,” she said.
“Today we must support gas as an energy of transition, and we await the support and understanding of the United States.”