[DEHAI] Africa: Carson Outlines Obama Administration’s Policy Priorities

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From: Tsegai Emmanuel (emmanuelt40@gmail.com)
Date: Fri May 01 2009 - 01:08:26 EDT


Africa: Carson Outlines Obama Administration’s Policy

Posted 1st May 2009

Tami Hultman

29 April 2009 | Washington, DC — On President Barack Obama’s 100th day in
office, his nominee to be the top administration Africa policy official,
Ambassador Johnnie Carson, told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
that, if confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, he will
pursue a broad, but focused, agenda to protect U.S. interests and promote
African development.

Carson said Africa is important to the United States because of U.S.
interests in seeing peace, good governance and economic growth on a
continent that is the origin of over 13 percent of Americans, supplies 15
percent of U.S. oil and most of its natural gas and has vast potential as a
trading partner.

In an overview of Africa’s achievements and its challenges, he identified
four areas of policy attention: strengthening democratic institutions,
prevent conflict, fostering economic growth and partnering with Africa to
combat global threats.

He said Africa’s poverty has disadvantaged it in dealing with health
pandemics, climate change, food shortages, narcotic trafficking and maritime
issues. But he said helping Africans address threats that are global, as
well as regional, will serve U.S. as well as African interests. He also said
he looks forward to working with African leaders, inside and outside
government, to grow their economies.

Carson is a career foreign service officer who has served in six African
countries and was U.S. ambassador to three - Uganda, Zimbabwe and Kenya. He
also has experience on Capitol hill, where served for nearly three years as
staff director of the House Subcommittee on Africa.

He was a leading choice for at least two ambassadorial posts during the Bush
administration earlier this decade but did not receive an appointment.
Instead, he spent three years as senior vice president at the National
Defense University and, since 2006 has been in charge of Africa at the
National Intelligence Council, which produces strategic analysis for the
executive branch.

He told Senators he has traveled to 40 of the 48 sub-Saharan Africans
countries, which are the responsibility of the State Department’s Bureau of
African Affairs (Five north African countries are assigned to the Bureau of
Near Eastern Affairs).

Under questioning from senators, Carson pledged to speak out against
corruption, alongside Africans who are fighting it, to support a free and
independent media, including electronic media using new technologies, and to
advocate more resources and better security for U.S. diplomats in Africa.

Calling Zimbabwe “an extraordinarily tragic case,” he said a unity agreement
has produced “some small, incremental steps” but failed to loosen President
Mugabe’s and his party’s grip on key centers of power, including
intelligence services, the police and the military.

Asked about perceptions that U.S. support for Ethiopia’s incursion into
Somalia had destabilized the region and favored an authoritarian Ethiopian
regime, Carson promised a balanced policy that combines short-term strategic
interests with a recognition of the importance of “a free and vibrant
press,” unfettered trade unions and other elements of civil society that can
hold governments accountable.

The packed hearing room included an array of Africa watchers, including
diplomats, policy analysts, corporate leaders and health and human rights
advocates eager for a quick confirmation. Frustration among Africanists and
Africans has grown as weeks have passed without a new assistant secretary
for Africa in place, at a time of both opportunity and of crises, from
piracy to conflicts to collapsing economies.

Conversations with people representing a diversity of political views
suggests that Carson’s nomination has sparked optimism about the policy of
addressing African problem long regarded as intractable.

This morning’s hearing was a reminder of the magnitude of the problems as
well as possibilities. “If confirmed, Ambassador Johnnie Carson will have
his hands full as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs,” Senate Africa
Subcommittee Chairman Russ Feingold (Democrat-Wisconsin) said as he opened
the Committee hearing.

Feingold pledged to move the confirmation process along as rapidly as
possible. The Foreign Relations Committee must approve the nomination,
before sending it to the full Senate for final approval.

Source: All Africa <http://allafrica.com/stories/200904290880.html>

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