The U.S. View of the State of Democracy and Human Rights in AfricaJendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affiars
Remarks to Straight Talk Africa, Voice of America
February 1, 2006
Bureau of African Affairs
On this live one hour television and radio call-in simul-cast, host Shaka Ssali and his guest, Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, discussed U.S. policy on Democracy and Human Rights in Africa.
On U.S. Policy and Democracy in Africa, Amb. Frazer said,
"The United States will support democratic movements in Africa. The responsibility is ultimately with the governments and the citizens of Africa itself. We cannot impose democracy in any country." She also said what the U.S. would like to create institutions of democratization like national independent electoral commissions, voter registration and education and a free media.
On Elections in Uganda, and in response to questions from Uganda and Italy about the political oppression happening in Uganda Ambassador Frazer said, "In Uganda, I don't think that President Museveni is the equivalent of a terrorist organization like Hamas. I don’t feel that I need to defend President Museveni. I have said many a time that we think that the third term issue set democracy back in Uganda and we certainly said the jailing of Dr. Besigye certainly did not look like allowing for transparency… allowing for a free and fair elections."
On the Ethiopia/U.S. relationship - On the issues of the Ethiopia Eritrea boarder dispute Amb. Frazer said, "In order to demarcate you have to have dialogue between two parties because the Algiers Agreement basically says the demarcation has to be done according to what is just and reasonable." She also said this depends on how this affects the community that lives on the border.
On the question of what will the U.S. do with the presidency of the UN Security Council, Amb Frazer said on her recent trip to Africa she spent some time in Khartoum and spoke with the Sudanese leadership and African Union leaders. "As far as the United States is concerned the next step, and what we will try to focus our presidency on, is strengthening the security environment in Darfur by first strengthening the African Union mission.. the AMOS mission, and then moving towards transitioning that mission to a UN peace keeping operation.
Host Shaka Ssali asked about opposition politicians who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia since that last election, Amb. Frazer said, "We think it is important that for Prime Minister Meles to release many of the people who are in jail,.. certainly to bring their trails to a very speedy conclusion. .. to give them due process of law." She also said the U.S. has been putting pressure and diplomatic leverage on Prime Minister Meles Zenawai for dialogue to gain the release of those detained.
In response to callers from South Africa and New York about what the U.S. is doing to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to release detainees, Amb. Frazer said, "The United States does not finance the government of Prime Minister Meles. I stated very clearly that the Unites States assistance to Ethiopia goes through NGO’s to the people. Maybe you’re suggestion the United States should cut off its humanitarian assistance to the people of Ethiopia, then we’ll have starvation based on the drought that is taking place there. I don’t think any body wants that." "I think that the idea that the United States is going to be responsible for democracy in Ethiopia is entirely misplaced."
There were phone calls from Uganda, UK South Africa, New York, Botswana, Italy and Sweden.