United States: Incoming Secretary of State, Blinken Says Biden’s Administration to Prioritize Cameroon, Ethiopia & Uganda in African Policy

United States President-elect, Joseph R. Biden will be inaugurated in Washington, DC Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Security around the country’s capital has been tightened beyond any levels ever known since the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

Ahead of the inauguration ceremony, the Senate opened hearings to confirm President-elect Biden’s nominees. In the first of these hearings, incoming Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken said that the US’s foreign policy in Africa would become more vigorous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yffQ9pTuM1E (A clip of the United States Senate Confirmation Hearing

Taking a question from Senator Chris Koons of Delaware, Mr. Blinken stated that attention would be paid to ongoing concerns with developments in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.

Talking about Cameroon, Mr. Blinken noted “including atrocities against the Anglophone population there”.

A clip of the incoming Secretary of State’s confirmation hearing has been making rounds on social media, with citizens from Cameroon, Ethiopia and Uganda heaving a sigh of relief that at last some of the continent’s most hardened dictators may soon be called to book.

Yoweri Museveni in the eye of the cyclone (C) BusinessLIVE

In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni this week bullied his way to another mandate that would enable him to extend his tenure in the country to over forty years. Mr. Museveni used the military and all state resources to clamp down on the opposition and the media. To date, his main opponent, the pop star turned politician, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine is still under house arrest.

In a tweet Tuesday, January 19, Bobi Wine said: “Day six under house arrest and we’re stuck with an 18 months old baby who had paid a visit to her auntie (my wife) be4 we were raided and besieged. The Dad has been denied access to her. We have run out of food and milk. No one is allowed to leave or come into our compound”.  

President Museveni also shut down the internet prior to the election, claiming that it was in retaliation to an action by Facebook that suspended some of his supporters from the platform. Facebook had days earlier blocked the accounts of some supporters of President Museveni who were accused by the tech giant of using fake and duplicate accounts to commit fraud on the social media platform.

In the end the electoral body, totally under the control of Mr. Museveni, said he had won the vote with 58.6 per cent, while his closest challenger, pop Bobi Wine, got 34.8 per cent.

Cameroon's Paul Biya may have to emerge from hiding to begin answering for his acts (C) Voice of America

In Cameroon, an ongoing armed conflict between the mainly Francophone-led government and Southern Cameroons pro-independence groups has so far claimed over 3,000 lives according to the United Nations, though local and international rights groups put the death estimate at over 12,000. Reports of heinous crimes and atrocities against unarmed civilians by government forces, some pro-government militias and other armed groups have continued to raise concerns.

On January 9, a Cameroon military invasion in Mautu, a precinct in Muyuka, about 35-minutes’ drive from Buea, capital of the former UN Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons left some nine civilians, including children and women dead, with several others, wounded.  Local newspapers, eyewitnesses and rights organizations have confirmed that the atrocious killings were carried out by the government forces, though a Ministry of Defense Spokesperson, Colonel Atongfack denied the charge in a release, claiming the act never even happened.

The killings in Mautu came on the heels of an attack on school children at a private school in Kumba, where seven children lost their lives. To date, there has been no clarity as to who committed the act, though both Southern Cameroons pro-independence armed groups and Cameroon government forces have come under suspicion.

The most gruesome of these acts occurred in Ngarbuh, some 190 km from another Southern Cameroons chief town, Bamenda on February 14, 2020, where some 21 civilians were killed in Commando style, among them 13 children and a pregnant woman. Following sustained international pressure, a commission of inquiry set up by the Cameroon government concluded that the act was committed by the Cameroon armed forces in complicity with a local government-backed Fulani militia.

These atrocity crimes, along with the killing of an American Missionary in Bambui, near Bamenda, Charles Wesco have been condemned by the US government time and again, with the US Congress issuing several resolutions calling for an internationally mediated settlement. The latest of these resolutions, RES 864 passed unanimously by all 100 Senators empowered the State Department to begin taking targeted sanctions against government officials and others involved in the ongoing genocide in the Southern Cameroons.  

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali may begin to think differently (C) DW

In Ethiopia, an armed conflict between government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has attracted international attention. On January 13, the Ethiopian government said its forces had killed three members of the conflict-hit Tigray region’s former ruling party, including ex-Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin. The three officials were killed after they refused to surrender to the military, the government’s task force for the crisis in Tigray said on Twitter.

These three conflict areas in Africa constitute the first foreign policy file the Biden administration is likely to prioritize on the Black Continent.