Washington —The U.S. government supports U.N. initiatives for Africa that were advanced during recent meetings at the United Nations in New York.
Speaking to reporters October 1, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said the United States hopes that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will “move swiftly” to announce a U.N. special envoy to focus on Mali and its neighbors in the Sahel region.
The Mali situation is caused by four separate problems that are interrelated and must be addressed simultaneously, according to the assistant secretary. The first is the need for Mali to return to civilian elected government following the military coup d’état in March. The second is unrest among the Tuareg minority in northern Mali, which must be solved politically, not militarily, Carson said. Thirdly, Mali is further destabilized by the presence of terrorists associated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups who are trying to impose Shariah law through terrorism, kidnapping and robbery. The fourth is lack of food, which has been made worse by drought and a growing number of refugees fleeing the terrorist groups.
The situation calls for a broad-based, comprehensive strategy that will involve the Economic Community of West African States, Algeria, Chad and Mauritania as well as the United States and Europe, Carson said.
The assistant secretary called Somalia a “good-news story” for Africa, evidenced by the creation of a new government, a new provisional constitution and a new parliament whose members are 18 percent women and 60 percent university graduates.
According to Carson, the United States is going to help Somalia in three ways: help develop effective government ministries staffed by competent civil servants; help create a new Somali National Army that is subservient to civilian and constitutional control; and help the government create the capacity to deliver services, such as medical care, education, clean water, electricity, small business support and microcredit.
With regard to the dispute between Sudan and South Sudan, the United States supports efforts by Secretary-General Ban to resolve issues related to oil, refugees, reopening the border and supporting two viable states living in peace internally as well as with each other, Carson said.
Concerning the instability in eastern Congo, leaders from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi met in New York the week of September 24 to try to reduce tensions between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and restore trust between their leaders as well as end violence carried out by the M23 insurgent group, Carson said.