The United States of America says Nigeria’s 2019 general elections and a peaceful transition, remain its major priority in view of the country’s strategic position in the West African sub-region.
The US Department of State said during a background briefing on the first trip of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Africa, monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria in New York.
Tillerson would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government functionaries, and also leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya during his travels from March 6 to 13.
The department said over two decades ago, the number of countries in Africa with really democratically elected government were really very few – only three or four.
It said, however, “now we had over two dozens African countries with democratically elected governments and which are hopefully not going to have transitions in government through coup d’etats and other illegal methods.”
“As we look at the 20 elections, obviously Nigeria, though it’s not this year – it’s going to be next year – that really is a major priority focus, because that’s going to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050.
“It has really very complex political issues and ethnic and tribal issues and security issues.
“And that’s an area that we really are focusing on how to do a peaceful transition, a democratic transition, but more important is how to hold governments accountable to the people,” the state department said.
The department explained that obviously, a lot of those African countries were still fragile democracies and the US was trying to strengthen them.
The US commended the most recent elections in Liberia, saying it was the first open, fair, and peaceful transition of governments in over 75 years, saying that was a good thing.
It regretted what it called the “horrendous rule of Charles Taylor and the degradation of the institutions there, but now we’ll going back and they’re building, and I think with the election of George Weah that’s going to be a positive thing.”
The US also noted the election of Nana Akufo-Addo in Ghana, Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire and Macky Sall in Senegal, describing them as positive developments.
It said, however, that Ethiopia remained a challenge for the US and a focus for it as well and an opportunity.