Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Dakar, Senegal on Monday, the first stop on her 11-day, seven-nation tour of Africa. At the top of her agenda are the growing security threats to the region from extremist groups, and the increasing economic influence of China on the continent.
While Clinton will address, and laud, the democratic progress of the various countries when meeting with their leaders, one of her main focuses is expected to be on pushing back the economic inroads China has been making on the continent since 2009. China is now Africa’s largest business partner, a deal which critics denounce citing China's precedent for alleged human rights abuses.
In a speech today at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop Universiy, Clinton will tell African leaders to “carefully consider projects proposed by foreign countries that do not demand complete accountability and may encourage corruption,” according to the AP. She is expected to emphasize that “proper development” -- it's easy to read that reference as "development not done by China" -- will “blunt the appeal” of extremist and terrorist groups.
Clinton’s trip comes just four months after Islamist militants linked to Al Qaeda gained control of the northern part of Mali, Senegal’s neighbor to the east and north, raising alarms the country might become the next Afghanistan. An estimated 500,000 Malians have fled their homes in the wake of the insurgent takeover, according to CNN. Talks between Clinton and Senegal’s President Macky Sall will likely revolve around these growing security threats, according to the AP.
After Senegal, Clinton will travel to South Sudan, the first time a U.S. top diplomat has visited Africa's youngest country, and then to Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and Ghana.
According to a statement from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, Clinton's meeting with South Sudan's president Salva Kiir Mayardit will "reaffirm U.S. support and to encourage progress in negotiations with Sudan to reach agreement on issues related to security, oil and citizenship." Tensions between the new country and Sudan are still running high. Both Sudans are currently facing UN sanctions unless they reach a peace deal by Thursday, August 2, according to AFP.
In Uganda, which is currently suffering from an Ebola epidemic, Clinton is expected to discuss human rights, LGBT rights, and the insurgency of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army with President Museveni, in addition to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
After Uganda, Clinton will meet with leaders in Kenya, including the President and Prime Minister, to “to emphasize her support for transparent, credible, nonviolent national elections in 2013,” according to the official statement.
While in Kenya, she will also meet with Somalia's president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to “underscore US support for completing the political transition…by August 20th.” Somalia’s transition to a democratic government has been marred by attacks from Al Shabab insurgents who control part of the country, which hasn't had a unified, central government in 20 years.
After visiting Malawi and meeting with President Banda, Clinton’s trip will conclude with a meeting with Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and a trip to Ghana on August 10 to attend the funeral of the late President John Atta Mills, who died suddenly on July 24.