Hillary Clinton has completed an arduous 21,200 mile, 11-day, seven-country tour of Africa. With the exception of an embarrassing over-reaction to a town hall question that was misinterpreted to be about her husband, Bill Clinton, by all measures her trip was an unqualified success.
In another international test, Hillary has demonstrated her intelligence, a sensitivity to international concerns, and a fierce determination to chance perceptions of the U.S. and its foreign policy.
Here’s a breakdown of her trip country-by-country from Christian Science Monitor contributor, Tracey D. Samuelson.
From massive oil-producing Nigeria to the tiny island-nation of Cape Verde, Secretary Clinton’s trip highlighted the many sides of the diverse continent. Her seven-country tour was as much about securing US interests in resource-heavy lands as it was about supporting African development. Following are summaries of her visit in each country:
A primary goal of Clinton’s 11-day trip was to reiterate the message of transparent and corruption-free governance that President Obama urged during his trip to Ghana last month. This reiteration began at the first stop, Kenya.
Indeed, the birthplace of Mr. Obama’s father was not spared criticism for its shortcomings. “The absence of strong and democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence, human rights abuses, lack of respect for the rule of law,” Clinton said at a news conference after meeting with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Discussions also included trade, agricultural development, and the instability of neighboring Somalia. In addition, Clinton met with Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, president of Somalia’s transitional government, to offer reassurance of US support.
Clinton’s time in South Africa, a country often known as the continent’s economic powerhouse, focused on strengthening relations that had soured and stalled during the administrations of former Presidents George W. Bush and Thabo Mbeki.
“In both countries, there are two new administrations which are taking that relationship a level higher,” South African President Jacob Zuma said after meeting with Clinton.
Clinton also stressed that South Africa should be a leader for the continent and toured an HIV/AIDS clinic outside of Johannesburg that is partially funded by the United States.
Oil-rich Angola is strategically attractive to the US. Already, Angola supplies America with 7 percent of its oil imports. Angola’s worldwide oil revenues account for approximately 85 percent of its gross domestic product.
Here, Clinton pressed for strong democratic institutions and governmental transparency, pushing President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to hold the country’s first presidential elections since 1992. Mr. dos Santos agreed to elections “in a timely manner,” according to Clinton.
Clinton also stressed the need for Angola to redevelop its once-productive agricultural industry. And she signed an agreement that provides the country with $17 million to combat HIV/AIDS and prevent new infections. It was one of only two pledges for new aid announced on the trip.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Traveling to Goma, a conflict-ridden provincial capital, Clinton focused on the crimes against women that have become widespread in this country and in neighboring Sudan,
Uganda, and Rwanda
Since war broke out 12 years ago, 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Congo, the United Nations estimates. In “very frank” discussions with President Joseph Kabila, Clinton said, she “made the point that these crimes, no matter who commits them, must be prosecuted and punished.”
To Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito, she added at a dinner in her honor, “There must be an end to widespread financial corruption and abuses of human rights and women’s rights.”
Clinton also spoke out against “conflict minerals” mined in the country and announced that the US will provide more than $17 million in new funding to prevent and respond to gender and sexual violence here.
“Nigeria is at a crossroads,” Clinton said at a town-hall-style meeting in the capital, Abuja. She stressed the need for Africa’s largest country – and one of its most corrupt – to implement democratic reforms.
Before an audience of civil activists in Abuja, she cited a recent World Bank report that said Nigeria has lost more than $300 billion to corruption and mismanagement over three decades. And, Clinton said, the “lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of the government and contributed to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state.”
Clinton and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe, announced a new binational commission that, among other things, will aim to improve the stability of the oil-rich Niger delta. The US supports Nigeria’s inclusion in the Group of 20, Clinton also said, but the country first has to tackle its corruption problems, she added.
At a luncheon to honor the continent’s only female president, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Clinton said, “I will admit it. It’s not diplomatic, but I happen to be a fan and a friend of your president.”
Thousands lined the streets to greet Clinton in the warmest reception of all her African sojourns.
Despite a seven-year civil war, Liberia has been politically and economically stable since about 2005.
But Clinton did not shy away from the work Liberia has yet to do.
“Liberian people still need jobs, electricity, housing, and education,” Clinton said before a joint session of the Liberian National Legislature. “Law enforcement is still inadequate, and after years of war and lawlessness, institutions have been left crippled.”
She also noted the need for budgetary oversight and increased governmental transparency.
But she also said, “In just three years, there are encouraging signs of progress.”
That Clinton included Cape Verde, a palm-speckled archipelago and refueling stop for long-distance flights, was a surprise to many.
But it was one last opportunity for her to highlight an example of good governance in Africa, after strong critiques of corruption in many of her previous stops.
“Few places … demonstrate the promise of Africa better than Cape Verde,” Clinton said in a news conference before returning to Washington.