Carson Articulates Obama Policy on Africa

February 28, 2010

Washington — The top U.S. envoy for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, met with reporters February 24 and answered questions on a wide array of  issues: Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, and China’s operations in Africa.

Carson spoke at the Foreign Press Center in Washington and took questions from journalists there and in Johannesburg and New York through a video feed. Carson’s briefing followed his trip to Europe and Africa, which included stops in Spain for meetings with European Union officials, attendance at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and stops in Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

Asked to offer his view on the 2010 election in Ethiopia, Carson said it would be premature to comment prior to the voting. “Let’s see how they turn out. What we do say to Ethiopia, to the government, to the opposition parties and to the citizens is that we hope that this election will be run freely and fairly and that there be a level playing field for all — that the government and the opposition take their responsibilities seriously, that both sides respect the political rights of the others and that both carry out their responsibilities.”

Carson said the United States also has strongly urged that these elections be “substantially better in their aftermath than the 2005 elections, in which there was very bitter and serious violence in their wake. We all want Ethiopia to continue to move along an upward and more inclusive and stronger democratic trajectory,” he said. “Elections are simply an important process in the selection of democratic leaders. We want this to go well” and are “looking for an outcome that makes things better for everyone: free, transparent and open, with both sides taking their responsibilities seriously.”