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U.S. to provide $165 million in support for elections, governance in Africa

2022-12-15T15:37:26Z

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as Senegal’s President and Chairperson of the African Union Macky Sall looks on during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

The United States on Thursday said it would provide over $165 million to support elections and good governance in Africa next year, after U.S. President Joe Biden met with leaders of African nations facing upcoming elections.

Biden met on Wednesday with leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to discuss upcoming elections in the countries next year, the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

The leaders, who met on the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa leaders summit in Washington this week, discussed the challenges of holding elections, including foreign interference and political violence, the White House said.

African leaders from 49 countries and the African Union have gathered in Washington for a three-day sumit that began on Tuesday, with focuses on climate change, food security, trade partnerships and other issues. Biden is also expected to back the African Union’s admission as a permanent member of the Group of 20 major economies during Thursday’s summit events.

Those at the meeting with Biden on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to hold “free, fair and transparent elections” that would be conducted by independent national electoral bodies.

“The elections in Africa in 2023 will be consequential. While the United States does not support any specific candidate or party, the United States is committed to supporting electoral processes to deepen democracy in Africa,” the White House said.

Biden’s meeting comes as the United States has grown increasingly concerned about the state of democracy in nations in Africa following a series of coups and concerns over some elections.

Military juntas have snatched power in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020, raising concerns about a return to West Africa’s post-colonial reputation as a “coup belt”.

The United States in October said it was deeply concerned by events in Burkina Faso and condemned the overthrow of the country’s government by armed soldiers. Frustration over growing insecurity spurred two coups in Burkina Faso this year, and two in Mali since 2020.

In November, the United States said it had “serious doubts about the credibility of the announced results” in elections in Equatorial Guinea last month and called on authorities to work with all stakeholders to address allegations of voter fraud.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement said allegations of “significant election-related irregularities” included intimidation, coercion and repeat voting, adding that the United States was also concerned by what he said were irregular counting practices.

Washington has also warned it will take action against those undermining the democratic transition in Sudan.

Sudanese political parties and the military signed a framework deal earlier this month that they said would pave the way for two-year civilian-led transition towards elections and end a sometimes violent stand-off triggered by a coup in October 2021.