Colin Powell Shaped Lasting US Policies Toward Africa

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died Monday, is being remembered in Africa for peacemaking, supporting the fight against AIDS and sounding the alarm against war abuses.Cameron Hudson, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council…

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died Monday, is being remembered in Africa for peacemaking, supporting the fight against AIDS and sounding the alarm against war abuses.

Cameron Hudson, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, recalled that Powell was the first U.S. official to declare genocide in the Sudanese region of Darfur and was deeply involved in the peace agreement ending Sudan’s longest-running civil war, which paved the way for South Sudan independence.

In 2004, Powell testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the violence in Darfur, an area plagued by deadly clashes for decades, and used the term, “genocide.”

“That was the first time that word had been used in that conflict, and it really became a rallying cry around the world and certainly within U.S. activist communities. And you saw the United States get even deeper involved in the conflict there,” Hudson told VOA on Monday.

Powell also played a leading role in negotiations that ended the civil war in Sudan that lasted more than two decades.

“You saw the creation of a Sudan office in the State Department under Colin Powell,” Hudson said. “You saw his personal involvement in the negotiations culminating in the 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Nairobi (Kenya), which Colin Powell traveled to and bore witness to as guarantor of that.”

And while Powell’s legacy is often intertwined with his promotion of the war in Iraq, Hudson said he is remembered in Africa differently.

“I think that Colin Powell reflects that there was a very, very strong peacemaking element within, certainly, his State Department at the time,” he said.

“If … you look at what happened with the Bush administration when they came to office, there were civil wars going on in Liberia, in Sierra Leone, in Congo, in Angola and in Sudan,” Hudson said. “And by the end of that first term in government, all of those civil wars had some sort of peace agreement. That wasn’t by accident.”

Powell traveled to Africa in 2001 — stopping in Mali, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda — on a mission the State Department described as the “engagement of this administration and the secretary personally in Africa and Africa policy.”

The visit drew media criticism accusing Powell of ceremoniously lecturing Africans on democracy and transparency.

But many African leaders had a different view.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told the Nigerian newspaper Punch that Powell embodied Black culture across the Atlantic.

“He was not just an African American. He was an African American who understood Africa,” Obasanjo said.

Under Powell, the Bush administration put into place several aid programs to fight diseases and help build economies. Many of those programs remain.

Since 2003, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has distributed more than $85 billion globally for HIV/AIDS assistance, with most of the aid distributed in Africa.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, created by the U.S. Congress in 2004, is an independent U.S. foreign assistance agency aimed at fighting global poverty. Much of its work is done in Africa.

Niger political analyst Moustapha Abdoulaye described Powell’s death as a major loss, not just for the United States but for the world, because of his personal and professional qualities.

Brook Hailu Beshah, a former Ethiopian diplomat and currently a political science professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, recalled personal encounters with Powell.

Powell was a “person who put America before self, open and respectful to opinions of others, humble and reasonable,” Beshah said.

Source: Voice of America

Africa Warming More, Faster Than Other World Regions

Authors of a new report on Africa’s climate warn the continent is heating up more and faster than other regions in the world, and they said Africa needs immediate financial and technological assistance to adapt to the warming environment.The African co…

Authors of a new report on Africa’s climate warn the continent is heating up more and faster than other regions in the world, and they said Africa needs immediate financial and technological assistance to adapt to the warming environment.

The African continent is home to 17% of the global population but is responsible for less than 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, which are leading to climate change.

The report finds changing precipitation patterns, rising temperatures and extreme weather triggered by climate change are happening globally, but notes these events are occurring with greater frequency and intensity in Africa.

Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas said there were 700 major disasters on the continent last year. He said more than half have been flooding events, and one-sixth have been storming and drought events, respectively.

“We have seen almost 100 million people who have suffered of food insecurity, and they needed humanitarian assistance … and the combined events of conflicts, climate hazards, and especially this COVID-19, they have been contributing to the increase of 40% of food insecurity,” Taalas said

This multi-agency report, entitled State of the Climate in Africa 2020, was coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization, with the help of the African Union Commission and various U.N. agencies.

The report finds the warming trend over the last three decades in all African subregions was stronger than in the previous 30 years. During this period, it said Africa has warmed faster than the global average temperature over land and ocean combined.

It said higher-than-normal precipitation and flooding predominated in places such as the Sahel, the Rift Valley, and the Kalahari basin. At the same time, dry conditions prevailed in the northern coast of the Gulf of Guinea and other locations, while drought in Madagascar triggered a humanitarian crisis.

Taalas said sea-level rise is threatening many coastal cities in Africa, like Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub and a major financial center in Africa. He said climate change also is having a devastating impact on the last remaining glaciers in East Africa.

“The three African glaciers, Mount Kenya, the Rwenzori, and Kilimanjaro —and you can see that there has been a major loss of the sea ice area and also sea ice mass,” Taalas said. “And if the current trends continue, we will not see any glaciers in Africa in the 2040s.”

The African Union Commission reports adaptation costs in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated at $30 billion to $50 billion, equivalent to two to three percent of regional gross domestic product each year over the next decade.

However, it notes the cost of doing nothing will be much higher. By 2030, it said up to 118 million extremely poor people will be subject to devastating impacts of drought and intense heat. It adds subsequent displacement and migration consequently will lead to a further 3% decrease in GDP by 2050.

Source: Voice of America

Indictment Accuses US Congressman of Lying to FBI

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, accusing him of lying to the FBI and concealing information from federal agents who were investigating campaign contributions funneled to him from a Nigerian bil…

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, accusing him of lying to the FBI and concealing information from federal agents who were investigating campaign contributions funneled to him from a Nigerian billionaire.

The U.S. attorney’s office announced that the grand jury in Los Angeles had indicted the nine-term Republican on one charge of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Fortenberry is expected to appear for an arraignment Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles.

The indictment stems from an FBI investigation into $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian billionaire of Lebanese descent.

The contributions were funneled through a group of Californians from 2012 through 2016 and went to four U.S. politicians, including $30,200 to Fortenberry in 2016. Using an analysis of federal election records, Politico has identified the other three Republican recipients as former U.S. Representative Lee Terry of Nebraska in 2014; Representative Darrell Issa of California in 2014; and Senator Mitt Romney during his 2012 presidential campaign.

Federal authorities haven’t alleged that any of the other three campaigns or candidates were aware that the donations originated with Chagoury.

Allegations

Chagoury, who lives in Paris, admitted to the crime in 2019, agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine and is cooperating with federal authorities. Prosecutors have said Chagoury made some of the illegal contributions to politicians from smaller states because he thought the amounts would be more noticeable and give him better access. He also drew attention years ago for giving more than $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.

The indictment alleges that a co-host of the 2016 fundraiser in Los Angeles told Fortenberry that the donations probably did come from Chagoury, but Fortenberry never filed an amended campaign report with the Federal Election Commission as required. It says he later “made false and misleading statements” to federal investigators during a March 23, 2019, interview at his home in Lincoln.

According to the indictment, Fortenberry falsely told investigators he wasn’t aware of an associate of Chagoury being involved in illegal contributions. He also allegedly said that his donors were publicly disclosed, and he wasn’t aware of any contributions from a foreign national, which is illegal.

In a second interview in Washington in July 2019, the indictment says Fortenberry denied that he was aware of any illicit donation made during the 2016 fundraiser.

‘Shocked’ and ‘stunned’

In a YouTube video posted Monday night, Fortenberry said he was “shocked” and “stunned” by the allegations and asked his supporters to rally behind him. Knowingly making false statements to a federal agent is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

“We will fight these charges,” he said in the video, filmed inside a 1963 pickup truck with his wife, Celeste, and their dog, against a backdrop of corn. “I did not lie to them. I told them what I knew. But we need your help.”

Fortenberry’s campaign has insisted that he didn’t know the donations, which the campaign received during a fundraiser in Los Angeles, originated with Chagoury.

Fortenberry said FBI agents from California came to his home after he had been out dealing with a major storm that had just hit Nebraska. He said they questioned him about the contributions then and in a follow-up interview.

“I told them what I knew and what I understood,” he said.

Fortenberry represents the state’s 1st Congressional District, a heavily Republican area that includes Lincoln and parts of several Omaha suburbs, as well as surrounding farmland and small towns in eastern Nebraska.

According to the Nebraska secretary of state’s office, no other Nebraska congressman or U.S. senator has been indicted since at least 1901.

Fortenberry was first elected to the seat in 2004. He won his last election in 2020 with 60% of the vote and has generally defeated Democratic challengers by lopsided margins.

His statement that he expected to be indicted was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald.

Celeste Fortenberry said her husband spoke with the agents voluntarily, without a lawyer, because he was under the impression that the agents needed his help to get to the bottom of the case.

She said he later called his friend, attorney and former congressman Trey Gowdy, for legal representation. She said her husband sat for another interview with agents in Washington and was repeatedly assured that he was not a target of the investigation.

Source: Voice of America