Biden presidency may review visa ban
• World’s biggest Democracy suffers setback
• Democrats support Nigeria’s WTO bid
• No more vulgar words for Africa, says Ambassador Carson
As emergence of President-elect in the U.S. Presidential election becomes more imminent, authoritative sources close to former Vice President Joe Biden are reeling out salient issues that would form U.S. Africa Policy under his administration. Nigeria, The Guardian gathered, is at the centre of it all.
President Donald Trump of the Republican Party and Biden each claim to be leading in the bitter election.
While Trump campaign is contesting counts in key states of Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan, projections say Biden won in Wisconsin and Michigan. The two swing states (Wisconsin and Michigan) have a total of 26 electoral votes.
Biden is also presumed to win in Nevada and Arizona, two other critical states to both candidates.
Biden, last night, stopped short of declaring himself winner, but said he was very confident to beat his Republican rival. Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes, is critical to the conclusion of the process, but Democrats say they are hopeful to win the state by a significant margin. “The United States will have a president-elect tonight, a source said.
At 66.9 per cent, Tuesday’s election voter turnout was America’s highest in 120 years, and Biden had the 70.5 million votes already, the most won by any presidential candidate ever.
Meanwhile, an authoritative ally of Biden, yesterday, hinted that the potential U.S. government run by Democrats would drive positive Africa-specific policies with special interest on Nigeria.
According to Ambassador Johnnie Carson, who serves as Senior Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, Biden, as President, will most likely differ on the United State’s current position regarding the choice of Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Trump’s administration had opposed the presentation of Okonjo-Iweala as the popular choice by WTO Troika to the General Council as popular choice. The U.S., instead, preferred her South Korean rival, Yoo Myung-hee.
Carson praised Okonjo-Iweala, describing her as an outstanding economist, a reformist, and candidate for the WTO job.
Carson who disclosed this to The Guardian, at the 2020 US Presidential Election reporting Seminar virtually taking place in Hawaii, said “more attention will be paid to Africa now by Biden.” Carson explained that the Biden’s expected drive for review and revival of strong U.S.’ Africa policy would be triggered and sustained by the domestic support his campaign enjoyed from the Black and other demographic groups within the United States in the run up to the presidential election.
Carson, as a diplomat, served as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, staff director of the House Subcommittee on Africa, national intelligence officer for Africa, and deputy chief of mission in Maputo, Mozambique and Gaborone, Botswana. He also held assignments at the U.S. embassies in Lisbon, Portugal; London, England; and Lagos, Nigeria. Ambassador Carson is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and board member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the National Democratic Institute.
Ambassador Carson noted a number of global and transnational issues on which the United States and African countries should be working together to include public health pandemic, terrorism and helping Africa deal with its “youth bunch” as the “youngest continent in the world.”
Carson, who said that Africa-specific policy of the U.S. under President Donald Trump was negative said Trump’s decision to pull out from the Paris climate change agreement was a big blow to Africa, especially as former President Barack Obama had put in $2 billion. According to him, “Africa will be most affected (by climate change) and has the least resources to deal with it.” Carson told a group of international journalists at the virtual session of the ongoing 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Reporting Seminar organised by the East-West Center, Hawaii.
The career diplomat who served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs during the first administration of President Obama from 2009 to 2013, said Trump’s Immigration Policy that announced visa ban, especially for Muslim countries — four of which were African countries — specifically targeted Nigeria, Sudan, Chad and Mozambique — would be reviewed. “Nigeria was particularly under focus and Trump administration has a proposal that will exclude Nigeria and African countries from visa lottery,” he said.
Ambassador Carson specifically said that Biden would review Trump’s threat that United States would pull out of the World Health Organisation, whose head is an Ethiopian and revisit the “global policy of the U.S. against Africa.”
He explained that former vice president, Biden would toe the path of his former boss, president Obama in re-invigorating Africa partnerships in areas of power, agriculture, security and fight against terrorism.
“Under Obama, we saw the Power Africa Initiative for the electrification of Africa and Green Revolution projects. We also saw the (YALI Africa) programme for youths of Africa to provide leadership skills.”
He said he believed that Africa, in encouraging its youths with economic opportunities and progress, would find willing partner in Biden Presidency.
Carson said that Biden would seek stronger partnerships and collaboration with Nigeria, based on mutual respect. “He will seek to repudiate vulgar representation of Africa,” he assured.
Conceding that the U.S. has a different approach to Africa from China’s regarding spending, Carson said “no other country provides more money, in terms of health and humanitarian assistance in Africa, than the U.S.”
He mentioned Ebola and HIV interventions as specific examples while explaining that the United States was also helping to set up the Africa CDC.
He recalled that Obama, in 2009, sought to implement key development projects in Africa, one of which focused on power and using Renewables to help Africa on day-to-day basis. “It may not be as flashy as building a stadium or railway, but the U.S. has been backbone supporter of Africa projects.”
According to Carson, the U.S. is also assisting in building strong security network to fight terrorism, especially in Nigeria, Camerooun and Niger.
In corroborating Carson’s position on a potentially drastic shift in U.S foreign policy, Michael Kugelman, the deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said Biden would be more willing to call out India on human rights violation. “We should expect criticisms more than we saw during Trump administration,” Kugelman said, arguing that Biden’s boss, Obama, openly criticised India on New Delhi issues.
Kugelman also speculated that Biden would be “more willing to call out Bangladesh on its crackdown on political opposition.”
Professor Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations said a new administration led by Biden would see a doubling-down on America-first mantra to pursue a more robust U.S.-Europe Relations.
“ Many Europeans are surprised at how U.S. has not been playing its role. We will now see the United States as a member of the liberal democrats community standing shoulder to shoulder with other liberal democracies,” said Kupchan.
The relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States will be fine, but I’m not sure it’s going to matter much, Kupchan said of expected U.S.-UK relations under Biden.
Kupchan is a professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University in the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of Government.