News / Africa

US, Nigeria, to Set Up Bi-National Commission

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson (file photo)
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson (file photo)

The United States and Nigeria sign an accord Tuesday setting up a high-level bi-national commission, one of three the Obama administration plans to have with key African states. The State Department says the panel will, among other things, try to encourage electoral reform in Nigeria after trouble-ridden elections in 2007.

The agreement, to be signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nigerian Secretary to the Federal Government Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, is aimed at solidifying relations between the United States and its leading Africa trading partner.

Nigeria is the third-largest supplier of oil to the United States and among other things, the largest African contributor to international peacekeeping operations.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, briefing reporters on the pending agreement, said the United States views Nigeria - Africa's most populous nation - as a key to regional security.

"Nigeria has played a central, important and positive role in stability and peace in West Africa," said Johnnie Carson. "Liberia and Sierra Leone are peaceful today, under democratic governance today, in large measure due to the enormous political and security commitments made by previous Nigerian leaders. They are a key player, economically,  politically and in security in West Africa."

The U.S.-Nigerian bi-national commission will be a prototype for similar panels the Obama administration plans to set up with South Africa and Angola.

It will have working groups aimed at helping Nigeria improve governance and fight corruption, boost economic opportunity in the troubled but oil-rich Niger Delta region, deal with chronic power and refined fuel shortages, and make more of its vast agricultural potential.

Carson said the United States wants in particular to help Nigeria improve the conduct of elections after voting in 2007 was marred by fraud and violence and considered a setback from previous voting.

The chief U.S. Africa diplomat bluntly suggested that replacing controversial Nigerian elections chief Maurice Iwu would be one step that would improve prospects for a fairer national election in 2011.

"We hope that when it comes time to look at reappoint, or the decision to appoint someone else, that his past record be taken into account," he said. "The 2007 elections, in which he was responsible, were deeply flawed, highly condemned inside the country and deeply questioned outside the country. His track record in running elections has not been high or stellar, in fact it's been disappointing."

Carson said the working group on the Niger Delta would be aimed at dealing with the region's multiple problems including high unemployment and environmental degradation.

He categorically rejected a recent report by the newspaper Nigerian Compass that the United States is considering military intervention, if violence in the area threatened oil production.

"Nigeria's security is the responsibility of the central government of Nigeria," said Assistant Secretary of State Carson. "The United States has no, and I repeat, no intention of engaging militarily in Nigeria. The story that you have mentioned is erroneous, false and completely without foundation."

Carson said Nigeria's leadership acted responsibly and within the broad outlines of the constitution when it named Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as acting president in February, due to the prolonged illness-related absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua.

He said the political uncertainty over the change has begun to recede, but that the situation underlines the need to reform the national electoral commission and move toward new elections to be held before May of next year.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid