US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield has stated that the United States remains resolute in opposing many African leaders amending their constitutions in order to seek third-terms in office.
Ambassador Greenfield told journalists at the just ended AU Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa that amendment of constitutions to give third terms to Presidents does everything to defeat democracy and therefore the US Government does not support that conduct.
It may be recalled that during the ECOWAS Summit about a month ago, the issue of prohibiting third-term bids in West Africa and the continent at large was placed on the table for discussion, but suspended when Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and his Togolese counterpart, Faure Gnassingbè opposed the idea.
In a firm response, Ambassador Greenfield said, “Our position on extending term limits is very clear. We do not support that. We think that it does everything to defeat the purposes of democracy which supports countries having the ability to change governments and have a free and open society.
“So where countries are attempting, or presidents are attempting to change constitutions in order to extend their own terms and power, we have expressed our disagreement with that, and we have encouraged them not to do that. And I think African people across the continent are also standing up. Because we have seen…there was a recent poll done in which some thirty-four African countries indicated that they wanted term limits.
“They want to see changes of power. And for those countries that don’t have term limits, we think they should also have a change of power, as well. So our position, again, has been very clear, and our policy has been supported in our engagements with countries on the continent. “
Ambassador Greenfield’s response is in direct opposition to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempt to change the constitution of that East African country in order to run for a third term.
Nkurunziza’s intransigence (stubbornness), has for the past months caused chaos in Burundi resulting into the exodus of his people to neighboring countries and leading to the deaths of many either through the gun or disease (mainly Cholera).
In another development Ambassador Greenfield disclosed that the United States will provide US$5 million to the multinational taskforce fighting the Islamist group, Boko Haram that is causing instability in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun and Niger.
The US Government will provide military equipment and training for the task force to see to it that the terrorist group is defeated.
She acknowledged that the threat of Boko Haram is not for just one group but for everyone whose belief is not in conformity with its ideology.
The United States is not blind to the fight against terrorism, said Ambassador Greenfield, recalling that her government has been actively engaged in fighting terrorists since 2001 and has supported the peacekeeping mission in Somalia.