The Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs of the United States of America, Mrs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has lauded the successful conduct of Ghana’s election petition hearing by the Supreme Court.
She said this had demonstrated how far Ghana had come with democracy.
The Assistant Secretary was answering questions from the Daily Graphic in the areas of partnership, which the United States of America has with Ghana, during a video conference beamed live from the State House, Washington, USA, in Accra on Thursday.
Supreme Court Judgement
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“We have a very strong partnership with the government of Ghana – we are very very pleased with the results of the Supreme Court decision, where Ghana had free fair elections and it was confirmed by your court and it was accepted by the opposition,” Mrs Thomas-Greenfield said.
“I think that says a lot about how far Ghana has come as a democracy and how strong Ghana’s democracy is. So again, we look forward to working with Ghana. We have lots of investments in Ghana. Ghana is a recipient of a Millennium Challenge Corporation compact.
“We again encourage the people of Ghana to continue to move forward as a strong democracy and as a model on the continent and particularly in the region of West Africa,” she said.
Power Africa project
Responding to another question on a US$7 billion power project, dubbed “Power Africa,” to assist Africa deal with its frequent power outages, Mrs Thomas-Greenfield said the initiative had already begun and the United States lead agency, USAID, was already working with private companies in six countries for a start.
She said the energy office in the State Department and Economic Office were all partnering institutions in Africa to develop the initiative.
“I think this is going to be an initiative that will have widespread impact, because with power companies will be able to invest, with power, children are able to go to school, with power, hospitals are able to function, so this is major for Africa,” she said.
Mrs Thomas-Greenfield said while it would take some years for the impact of the five-year project to be felt, it would take a lot of work.
Young African Leaders Initiative
She also spoke about another initiative of the United States of America for Africa’s significantly high youth population.
Dubbed the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Mrs Thomas-Greenfield said it would involve three months of training on leadership for selected youth in the United States, during which the youth would be expected to develop relationship across borders and talk to each other during conflicts and also put into practice what they learn in their various countries.
“African youth have been the victims of conflict all over Africa, they have been the victims of recruiting, they have been victims of violence and we want to see young Africans also be beneficiaries of prosperity in Africa,” she said.
“So the Young African Youth Initiative that the President announced in June when he was in Africa is our effort to start addressing the youth barge and helping in developing the capacity of youth to take on leadership roles in the future, whether it is in politics, the private sector, academics. We are hoping over the next month to start the recruitment process for a leadership forum for young African leaders that will be held next summer in the United States,” the Assistant Secretary said.
Gay Rights and Same Sex Marriages
On gay rights and same sex marriages, she said; “The United States believes that all people are created equal – I am an Africa American, I have gone through the experience of being in a country where there were questions about that, so for us it is unequivocal that regardless of people’s sexual orientation, regardless of their gender, we want all people to be treated with all the rights and protections of human rights that we expect from all countries.”
“So we are prepared as United States with very strong values in this area to work with countries in Africa to help them develop legislation that will provide human rights to all of its people,” she said.
Commenting on Zimbabwe’s recent elections, she said; “We were disappointed with the election. While it was violent free, we are not convinced it provided an opportunity for all Zimbabweans to express their views in the election and again we would be reviewing our sanctions in light of that.”
Responding to a question on corruption in Nigeria, the Assistant Secretary said “Corruption is a cancer, it thwarts a country’s ability to prosper and we are working with the Nigerian sector, with its justice sector to ensure Nigeria builds the infrastructure and the capacity to deal with issues of corruption.”
“I think it goes without saying, that Nigeria’s prosperity has been affected by corruption. It is a reputation that Nigeria will have a hard time living down and we hope that we are able within the next few years to work with the government to ensure that those individuals who are involved in corruption are held accountable in the legal system of Nigeria,” she said.
By Edmund Smith-Asante/Daily Graphic/Ghana