Daily Archives: May 4, 2014

Africa: Remarks While Touring a GE Facility in Luanda

Remarks While Touring a GE Facility in Luanda

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Luanda, Angola
May 4, 2014


Well, Jay Ireland, thank you very much for a generous welcome here to General Electric in Luanda in the center of this extraordinary economic activity. I’m very excited to be here. I’m sorry that my wife is not here, because she was born in Mozambique and speaks – her first language is Portuguese. (Applause.) So I hear it around the house all the time – muito obrigadoand all that stuff. (Laughter.)

But it’s a privilege for me to be able to be here, and I want to thank Foreign Minister Chikoti for his welcome and for the opportunity to be able to meet the president tomorrow and have a good conversation about the bilateral relationship between the United States and Angola. I am particularly pleased to be here with other representatives of the oil and gas industry, a representative from Chevron, from ConocoPhilips, as well as from ExxonMobil – Esso, as you call it here. And I’m very grateful that the representative from the U.S.-Angola Chamber of Commerce is here, too.

As you’ve heard in the earlier introductions, I’m here with former United States Senator Russ Feingold, who is our – President Obama’s and my special envoy to the Great Lakes region and who is working to produce greater stability and peace in the region. President dos Santos and Angola have provided important leadership, and I want to thank you, Angola, for the leadership an the participation and the help to solve conflicts that have gone on for too long.

But as I mentioned a moment ago, we’re standing in a place of enormous economic activity with great promise for future economic growth and development. I am accompanied on this trip by the president and CEO of the EximBank[1], Elizabeth Littlefield, because the EximBank[2] is very much a partner with General Electric and very involved in helping to support economic development here in Angola and in other parts of Africa.

In fact, though EximBank[2] we have just provided a $600 million, just about a $600 million loan guarantee that will assist in the purchase of a Boeing 777 for Angola. This will grow the opportunity of, obviously, more ability to have business and more ability to have trade, and also for people to simply come to be able to engage in some of the exciting things that are happening in Angola. In addition, Exim[2] is providing another $300 million or so of additional economic investment here in Angola.

So let me just say quickly why being here is important today. Africa is changing. Eight of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are here in Africa. There is enormous opportunity for the people of Africa, the people of Angola, to be able to gain in healthcare, in education, in jobs, in the quality of life. And I know the government is very focused on how to provide for increased standard of living for the people of the country. That comes from fair and reasonable trade agreements where everybody benefits, where there’s an ability to create jobs. When a Boeing airliner is bought from Boeing, it creates jobs in America, but it will also create jobs and opportunity here in Angola.

General Electric has recently sold four power turbines to Angola. This is for a project in Soyo. And this will help provide the power that then generates the ability for hospitals, for schools, for homes, for cities, for stores to be able to grow and prosper. So we believe there are great opportunities on which we can build where, most importantly, Angolans will benefit.

I just spoke with the representative for ConocoPhillips, who tells me and the representative for Chevron – who tell me about the several thousands of employees. ConocoPhilipps is newer here, but Chevron has about 3,500 workers employed. So more and more Angolans are being trained to take on more and more different kinds of important jobs.

The first lady of Angola was in Los Angeles a number of years ago, and she was talking with the executives there about a disease here in Angola. A lot of people thought you couldn’t do anything about it. But Chevron, which had been working here for many years, stepped up and they talked with the Texas Children’s Hospital and they got care to be able to come her to help cure this disease for children. More than 3,000 children’s lives have been saved

So this is not just about business. This is about building a relationship between two people, two countries, and building a future. And when I look out at the economic energy out here in the port in all these containers and these ships and the work that you’re doing, I am confident that Angola, working together as you are now, will be able to help contribute to an extraordinary journey in Africa as a whole, and we will provide greater opportunity to everybody.

Thank you for the privilege. Muito obrigado. (Applause.)

 


[1] Elizabeth Littlefield is the president and CEO of OPIC.

[2] OPIC


Africa: Meeting With Embassy Luanda Staff and Families

Meeting With Embassy Luanda Staff and Families

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Luanda, Angola
May 4, 2014


SECRETARY KERRY: So thank you for taking time to come out on a Sunday. I guess we’re probably glad that it’s a Sunday, because if it wasn’t you’d all be stuck in traffic, from what I hear. Is that true? Oh, it’s true. And I was standing up there. I noticed this pool over here. I said, whoa, that’s pretty nice. Do you ever get to use it?

CHILD: Yes.

SECRETARY KERRY: Do you? Kids, do you guys get in there?

CHILDREN: Yes.

SECRETARY KERRY: That’s kind of fun, isn’t it? Anyway, thank you very much. Heather, thank you. I left Heather over here. I’m really proud of the work that Heather is doing. She’s been forced into duty because of the absence of an ambassador for an entire year, which is pretty amazing – very frustrating to me that we have about 45 or so ambassadors that we’re waiting on from the United States Senate. But as you all know, the Senate has been sort of caught up in a very difficult political morass, and we’ve suffered as a result of it. We have a number of nominees that we’re still waiting for.

But Heather has proven her mettle. She’s really been incredible here. And she comes pretty well trained, I think, because she’s been all over the place – in Abuja, in Algeria, she’s been in – Nigeria. She’s been in Gaborone and here and Mexico, various places around the world as an economic/political officer as well as counselor, political counselor, deputy, and so forth. So I’m proud of what she’s doing and I’m proud of what you’re all doing because when Linda Thomas-Greenfield, our assistant secretary of state, and Russ Feingold, our special envoy, came out here, you guys really (inaudible), and Angola is playing a very important role. And it’s one of the things I’m going to talk to President dos Santos about tomorrow is the role Angola can continue to play as a leader, as a senior statesperson, as a leader country to be able to convene and bring other people together to help deal with the Great Lakes region. So you all are going to be sort of part of a history here. If we have our way, we can make things happen properly.

I’m grateful also to all of the families who serve. I think – where’s Scott? I haven’t met Scott. Is that him over here? So this is Scott and Rory and Maia, right? Thank you, guys. We appreciate it. I know that families – all of you – put up with a lot, and I learned that when I was a family kid. I was a Foreign Service brat, as we called them. It’s not derogatory – don’t worry. (Laughter.) So I learned a lot about the late nights and the long, hard work, also the excitement of being in another country and learning languages and being introduced to different culture. It’s a great, great opportunity, obviously.

Just a quick couple of words. First of all, I know the entire embassy feels the loss of David Brooks, and I want to just pay tribute to him and thank you all for being there for Nancy and the kids and the family. It means a lot and I know it’s a big loss to the embassy family.

But you all are doing great work here. That’s what’s really important. Africa is on the move. Africa is filled with possibilities and opportunities. That’s why making peace, ending the violence, particularly the violence against women and girls, and getting people to realize how much is there waiting in terms of education and health and opportunity, and building infrastructure, building roads, building schools, building homes. Developing the continent is going to provide extraordinary opportunity. In 20, 30 years from now when some of you come back or you visit, or if you haven’t left and you’re still here because you’re a local employee, you’re going to not recognize cities and locations. Things are going to change.

But we need to work at that. That’s why I just came from the port and from GE, General Electric, and talking with the oil companies, because they’re training more and more Angolans and they’re providing more and more opportunity for people here to be able to share in the building of this future.

So our job in this embassy is to show our values, but also to represent the possibilities of what this transformation can bring to improve the quality of life for people. And there’s so much that can be done. I have to tell you, I’m filled with a sense of wow, I wish I had more time. I only have two years and three quarters left as the Secretary, provided I don’t screw up in the next few months, and I have to tell you that I’m looking at all of these opportunities everywhere I go and the changes that are coming. I was in a hospital earlier today when I was in Kinshasa, and seeing what they’re doing to try to treat people and to work to make a difference in the quality of healthcare delivery and so forth. There’s so much to be done. And so much of what is there to be done will create incredible numbers of jobs for people.

So you all are on the cusp of that, and we appreciate enormously your willingness to do that. There are about six agencies here, I think, and at 41, 51 or so I think we have direct hire, and about 150 local employees. And I see a number of local employees here. Let me just say to all of you our local employees, we can’t do this without you and we are very, very grateful to you for the help you give us in your country to help us be able to help you. And so thank you very, very much for everything you do. I think there are two people here who have served here. We’re celebrating now 20 years of diplomatic relations, and I think Carlos Fernandes, is he here? Carlos, stand up, man. (Applause.) How many years have you done this, Carlos? How many? You’ve been here – you’re one of the earliest employees, aren’t you?

MS. MERRITT: Cuantos anos, Carlos?

MR. FERNANDEZ: 23.

SECRETARY KERRY: And Joana Nascimento , is she here? Hey Joana, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, both of you, very, very much. (Applause.)

And we have an exciting group of Young African Leaders Initiative members, the Young African Leaders are here, I think. How many do we have here? Come on up here. I want the Young African Leaders to come up here. All right, come on up here, all six. (Applause.) How are you? Nice to see you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, good to see you. Nice to see you. Thank you, congratulations to you. Thank you so much. Just stand beside me here for a minute.

These guys – how many of you are coming to Washington? Everybody. The whole crew. All right. The reason I asked that is yesterday I was with a Young African Leader in Kinshasa, and I didn’t know whether they were coming or not and I made the mistake of saying that they weren’t coming, so I felt very badly about that.

Anyway, this is a great experience. And I met a young woman in Ethiopia the other day who was in YALI, as we call it, Young African Leaders Initiative which President Obama started, and she had come back from her year working in Washington and learning and so forth and being trained, and she’d gone right into starting a company. And again yesterday, actually, in Kinshasa I met another person who had done the same thing, and she’d come back and she was working to help women be able to open pharmacies. And she would provide the money for them to be able to open it, and then they’d buy the wholesale from her, and it was sort of a revolving deal which worked for everybody and gave people the ability to be able to own things.

So you guys are going to go and you’re going to have a chance to take part also in the summit with President Obama. He’s very excited about the opportunity. And I know you’re going to come back here and you’re going to help lead the transformation of Angola. Okay? Is that a deal? All right.

Anyway, thank you all so much for the privilege of being here. It was really fun and I wish you all well. Thanks for coming out today. Appreciate it. (Applause.)


Africa: Remarks After Touring the Fistula Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital

Remarks After Touring the Fistula Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
May 4, 2014


Your Excellency Bishop Edouard and to everybody here, it’s a great privilege for me to be able to visit this hospital, St. Joseph’s. And I am so impressed by what I have seen and moved by what I have seen. Sister Marie Joseph, thank you so much for your incredible directorship here which you are leading and doing.

And I had occasion to talk at length with this wonderful surgeon, Dr. Dolores Nembunzu. And se is saving lives and making an extraordinary difference and this hospital is for young women who are victimized by sexual violence or in some cases by young women who are simply giving birth to children way before the time that they should be doing that. And they suffer damage to their reproductive capacity as a result of that.

Fistula is a very debilitating, degrading, and unbelievably painful, horrible condition that seals the future of these young women. Many of these young women, unfortunately, are ostracized by their community, abandoned by their families and their husbands, and they are left to their own devices. And but for the extraordinary care that is provided in a place like St. Joseph’s, these women would be lost.

What is happening here is an act of defiance, really, to fight back against violence, against gender-based violence and gender-based discrimination, and decisions that are made about young women that simply don’t work for those young women. So there are some 4,000 cases a year in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some 200 get to be treated here every year, I believe, by surgery. This wonderful doctor performs amazing surgeries. She told me that the shortest surgery is a surgery of 17 minutes; the longest surgeries are six or seven hours because that’s how much repair has to be done to restore these women’s lives.

I just met two young girls, one 26, a young woman, and a 19-year-old, both of whom were having extraordinary difficulty giving birth as a result of the violence that they had (inaudible) and as well as a lack of care, and the result was that they needed an operation desperately. One of them came here so weak, lost weight, lost strength, that for four months she’s been here, and much of that time was simply to get her to eat, to get her to be able to get strong, so she could then be cured and have an operation.

I met a woman a few minutes ago who I talked to, Julienne Lusenge, who is an activist for women who is courageous working with an organization that she has helped put together with 56 different agents around the country who are working to fight for the rights of women to be able to be freed from this kind of exploitation and violence.

(In French.) (Laughter.)

I mentioned that there were 4,000 cases a year. Thanks to a program in the United States run by the USAID – and our director of USAID is here, you can see up here our 50th anniversary effort – but we have treated 7,000 women that we have helped have these procedures to be able to be cured from fistula.

So I want to thank everybody who is involved in this effort. I want to thank the church, merci beaucoup. This is what the church should be doing to reach people and help people and administer. And I think that we can all be very, very proud of what this hospital is doing.

I also want to thank all of the people in the hospital and the director, Sister Marie Joseph. President Obama is deeply committed, as I am and everybody in our State Department is, to work to prevent this extraordinary violence against women and young girls. We are working to help educate young men, boys, and girls. And the global community, I promise you, will continue to stay focused on trying to prevent this kind of violence and help to save the lives of young women who have been oppressed by it.

(In French.)

(Applause.)


Africa: Briefing on the D.R.C.

Briefing on the D.R.C.

Special Briefing

Russell D. Feingold
Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo 

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
May 4, 2014


MR. FEINGOLD: Well, we are so pleased, all of us in the U.S. Government, State Department, that the Secretary made the important choice to come here and to also go to Angola later today. These are interconnected visits. Coming here is a statement about how pleased we are about the progress that the Democratic Republic of the Congo has made in particular in the last year. Their economic growth is one of the highest in the world. Yes, it’s on a low base, but it is positive growth.

QUESTION: What percentage growth annually?

MR. FEINGOLD: The latest quarter was 8 percent, they’ve had 10 percent. I want to check those figures, but they are positive growth figures, and Prime Minister Matata has been given credit for working with the president to move forward in that direction.

Their military performed admirably in this past year, a military that frankly in the past has not always received the highest reviews, but they performed admirably in going after one of the most important threats to the security of the country and going after the M23 in conjunction with MONUSCO and their intervention brigade. This was not expected that it would go that well and be that complete of a victory. So that was an important step for a country that needs to have a credible and competent military in order to govern the eastern part of the country in particular, that it’s been besieged by instability and violence.

At the same time, they demonstrated a strong diplomatic capacity where they sent a top-notch negotiating team to the Kampala talks, and we were deeply involved, including the Secretary himself on occasion, with phone calls and bringing that to a conclusion. It was very difficult, but it did lead to the Nairobi Declarations.

So this is a moment where the D.R.C., despite its many challenges, particularly in the eastern part of the country, can build on its successes. And the Secretary wants to congratulate them on this and discuss those aspects.

There are a couple of things that are particularly important in making that momentum continue. One is all the armed groups have to be pursued. The M23’s success was a prelude to what is the ongoing operations against the ADF, or ADF Nalu, a Ugandan-based group in Northern – North Kivu. And those are difficult operations that have been continuing, combining the FARDC’s efforts along with MONUSCO.

But the third major group that has to be pursued, frankly in my view, the top priority, is going after the FDLR. And the Secretary already discussed this with Foreign Minister Tshibanda, will discuss it with President Kabila today. The FDLR is the group that includes those who were involved, and are still around who are involved in the genocide, the genociders. They’re just a few hours from Rwanda, where this horrible crime was committed. They have been involved in very significant crimes and violence, including sexually based violence in eastern Congo.

And in addition, the whole idea of this intervention brigade and pursuing these groups was that the intervention brigade would go after all our groups. So that has to include those that Rwanda has a particular concern about as well as the others. And we pledged – MONUSCO, the United States, all of us, the UN – we pledged that this would include going after the FDLR. Those operations need to be taken seriously. The planning has been done. But President Kabila needs to give the green light to say it is time to take them on militarily, at the same time that we work to create the modalities so that if the FDLR is truly ready to surrender, we’re ready to do that. And we are working on that as well, but the two have to go hand in hand. Neither of them can operate on their own.

So that’s one priority. The other priority is the Secretary will be discussing with President Kabila, as he’s already done with Foreign Minister Tshibanda, the upcoming cycle of elections. Critical fact here is that the world was pleasantly surprised – I remember at the time being chairman of the Africa subcommittee in the United States Senate – we were pleasantly surprised by the success and credibility of the 2006 presidential elections. President Kabila came to power in a very difficult situation where people maybe did not expect that somebody who came into power that way would be able to pull that off, but they did.

Unfortunately, in 2011, it was a different story. The international community witnessed an election that lacked the indices of free, fair, and transparent elections, and was largely regarded as flawed, as some people in the country claim it was rigged.

So this is a critical thing that the presidential elections are coming up in 2016. There needs to be a series of elections held between now and 2016 that hopefully will include the first local elections in the history of this nation – they’ve never had election of local officials – the election of provincial leaders, including the governors, and then the presidential election, where a two-term limit is explicitly stated in the constitution. We believe that it is very important for the future of this country and its stability that that constitution be respected.

We also believe that everyone should work together – the Congolese Government, the opposition party members, the international donors – to make sure that a clear schedule for the elections is agreed to, a timeline that it is held to, and that the budgeting for it is transparent, and that those elections proceed and be finished, including the presidential election, in 2016 without any change in the constitution. That is our belief with regard to all of the countries in the region and all across the world, that it is better to adhere to such a constitutional provision and to not endeavor to change it for any individual – that that is a formula for instability, not stability.

QUESTION: Can I just —

MR. FEINGOLD: Yeah. That’s basically the two things I wanted to mention. Now you can ask.

QUESTION: So is that a polite way of saying the United States does not want Kabila to change the constitution and go for a third term?

MR. FEINGOLD: We don’t want – we believe that the constitution should stand, as in all the other countries in the region, in the Great Lakes. This is a message we have given consistently. The President of the United States, President Obama, when he was here last year, made a very important statement. What Africa needs is not strong men, but strong institutions. And one of those strong institutions is a credible method of executive succession, executive term limits. And in most cases, things have gone much better in those countries that have followed that, particularly in Africa, from my experience, having worked in this area more than other areas in the world.

QUESTION: But given that he’s been quite cooperative over the last year, is he looking for a pass from you guys?

MR. FEINGOLD: There certainly hasn’t been any comment to that effect, and when it comes to democracy, it’s about the people. The people of this country have a right to have their constitution respected. They have a right to choose their president in accordance with their constitution. The constitution here provides for two terms. As I’d like to say, it’s not as tough a provision as the one in the United States. Bill Clinton can’t run for president again. This provision actually is only two terms in a row. This is more like the – many other countries. We have a particularly tough provision. That provision should be respected.

QUESTION: What happened between the 2006 and the 2010 elections that you said —

MR. FEINGOLD: 2011.

QUESTION: Oh, 2011, right. You said that 2006 went well and 2011 was not seen as credible.

MR. FEINGOLD: There are a variety of analyses of this. Some suggest that the government here itself sought to handle these elections on their own and did not do all the things that were necessary. Others have suggested the international community was not adequately engaged early enough. So there’s plenty of blame to go around.

This time, the international community will be engaged. In fact, in particular, the United States, as the Secretary will announce today, is very serious about making sure we play our role, a significant role, in making sure that there are resources available. The Congolese Government has said that they will handle 80 percent of the cost of these elections, but another 20 percent needs to come from donors from around the world. I have taken the view and have gotten tremendous support from the Secretary that we should be upfront about our willingness to help to make sure the other donors also are upfront about their willingness to help.

QUESTION: So can – sorry.

MR. FEINGOLD: That – we have to avoid this chicken – this sort of chicken-and-egg thing where one side says, “Well, we want to know what you’re going to do, but first we got to know what – you tell us what you’re going to do and then we’ll tell you what we’re going to do.” I want and the Secretary wants the Congolese to know that if they create credible elections with proper timeframe, that – as long as that’s happening, that we will help, and I hope that we will – our help will be considered significant.

QUESTION: What kind of costs are we talking about here?

MR. FEINGOLD: I’m going to let the Secretary discuss that later today.

QUESTION: Okay. He plans to?

MR. FEINGOLD: He’ll be talking later today.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: To what does President Kabila attribute his reluctance to give the green light to take on the FDLR militarily? As you say, they are the original genocider, they’ve been around 20 years.

MR. FEINGOLD: Well, he has consistently said he knows that it is not only his responsibility, but in the interest of his country to remove them from their presence in their country. It’s an illegal armed group. It’s harmful to the country. The D.R.C. is a signatory to the Peace, Security, Cooperation Framework that requires this. He will tell you and I’m sure will tell the Secretary that it’s difficult taking on all these different groups, that the operations against the ADF have been – consumed significant resources of his military. But he also has told me, as recently as a few weeks ago, that he intends to give the green light.

But that needs to happen, and so we hope to have a good conversation, that the Secretary will have a good conversation about exactly when and how that can happen. I’ll just repeat again, as Martin Kobler and I did yesterday and when we spoke to the Secretary, that MONUSCO is ready, the FIB is ready, it is time for it to happen.

QUESTION: Can you drill that into specifics about how many people would be needed to do that kind of operation, what kind of money the United States would be able to provide to really go after these —

MR. FEINGOLD: Well, we are already the largest supporter of MONUSCO, and I don’t have any particular information about how much that particular operation will be. I believe the resources are there for this operation to occur. That’s not the problem. The problem is making sure the green light is given. I’ve seen the plans. It’s ready to go.

QUESTION: What’s AFRICOM’s relevance?

MR. FEINGOLD: Nothing in particular.

QUESTION: They’re not training, they’re not providing intelligence, they’re not helping anyone?

MR. FEINGOLD: No, MONUSCO is handling their own operation. They have their overall force that’s been there for a while. The FIB is the force of 3,000 people particularly devoted to this kind of activity with a strong mandate, about a thousand troops each from Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania. And they performed well with regard to the M23. Some of them have been helping, I believe, with regard to the ADF.

Yeah, they have, I believe, right? They’ve been helping with the ADF? They’ve been (inaudible)?

PARTICIPANT: Yeah.

MR. FEINGOLD: Yeah. And so this is a reasonably financed – they can’t do everything on their own, but there’s a lot of resources behind this, and I think they have the capacity combined with the FARDC. This is not some (inaudible) whole new commitment. This is just the next task that needs to be taken on.

QUESTION: What about finishing the M23? Rwanda and Uganda are going to have to give up some of the leaders of that group, it’s my understanding, to stand – to face some sort of Congolese judicial accountability. Do you believe that President Museveni and President Kagame will be willing to turn over those people?

MR. FEINGOLD: I’m reasonably optimistic about the follow-up on the so-called Nairobi Declarations. This has been a little slow, but we got a good update both from the ICGLR and from Foreign Minister Tshibanda. It appears that the modalities for most of the people involved, some 1,300 in Uganda and some 600 in Rwanda, are underway. Most of the individuals will be eligible for and apparently are already signing these amnesty declarations and they are being processed. This means that many of these individuals should, in the not-too-distant future, be able to start returning to the D.R.C. where appropriate and go into the demobilization programs and hopefully reintegration where appropriate.

Yes, there are individuals that would not fit in that category, and those individuals should face justice if they have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity. That’s the provision of the amnesty law. And I suspect that a reasonable number of those individuals will be returning to the D.R.C. for that process as well, although some possibly could be involved with other forms of justice too.

QUESTION: Mixed too?

MR. FEINGOLD: Mixed – yeah, well, that’s right. As a part of this, in addition to the fact that the amnesty law was passed – and this is another example of the good things that happened in the D.R.C. It’s not always easy dealing with congress or a parliament. But they did the job. The Nairobi Declarations were signed in – on December 12th. By the end of January, they had passed and promulgated this amnesty law. That was a critical first step to create – otherwise, none of this follow-up could be really occurring.

The next step is something where the United States has been really urging the D.R.C. to do something that it appears they’re very eager to do now as well, and that’s to create something called mixed chambers or mixed courts. These are Congolese courts. They’re not international courts. But they’re courts that would include international judges, typically African judges but people with background in international law, who would handle these kinds of cases. They would be a majority Congolese on the court at both the trial and the appellate level, but it would include the expertise of the international community to make sure that these prosecutions and all the convictions or whatever may come out of it is internationally recognized. We also believe it is beneficial to the future development of the Congolese judiciary.

So, we – our government has been very active in advising and working on this, and we think it’s outstanding that there’s a chance that this legislation providing for these mixed courts could pass in this current legislative session of the D.R.C. parliament. This is – would be important to making these examples where justice has to be done actually occur.

QUESTION: Is this session, this legislative session, is this this calendar year, or does it extend beyond the calendar –

MR. FEINGOLD: It, I think, goes till June.

PARTICIPANT: Yeah, it’s current.

QUESTION: Oh.

MR. FEINGOLD: Started in March.

PARTICIPANT: I think (inaudible).

MR. FEINGOLD: So I’m referring to just the session, as opposed to the whole.

QUESTION: Oh.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on something? The mixed courts, is that – is there any precedent for that? And also, when you talked about the issue of term limits before, I can’t recall – does the United States usually take a position on countries’ internal constitutional processes of term limits? I can’t remember if the United States comes out and says, “You don’t extend, don’t – “ I don’t remember that happening. Is that the common –

MR. FEINGOLD: Well, first of all, I believe a good precedent – and you could talk to Ambassador Stephen Rapp about this in more detail – a good precedent is Senegal for the mixed chambers, which – he often refers to how that was approached. It’s different than, for example, Sierra Leone, which was an international court that was officed, or set, in Sierra Leone. This is a Congolese court. And the same thing was done with regard to one major prosecution in Senegal.

The United States has consistently said throughout the world and, in particular, in Africa – and I was involved in this on many occasions as a member of the Senate – where we would suggest to leaders directly that it is our experience and our thought that it is far better for your country to maintain term limits for the executive if it is in your constitution, that it is as a destabilizing influence, and it’s reputationally damaging to a growing nation to change that. I personally delivered that message to many African leaders. It’s not the most fun thing to do. I remember once delivering this message to the president of Djibouti, and he said something to the effect of, “I hope I don’t have to continue doing this.” He seemed a little down that day.

But this is – and sometimes we’ve had a successful role in persuading people who may not have been excited about leaving that, really, it’s part of their legacy, and that there are great things that leaders of countries can do after they have been presidents of their country.

So we respect the sovereignty of countries, we understand they can create their own constitutional provision. We didn’t always have executive term limits. But it is our judgment that stability and democracy and growth of the governance, democratic governance of countries, is best served by following those provisions.

QUESTION: And just to clarify, these are term limits for two terms in a row. He could come back in a couple of years later and —

MR. FEINGOLD: That is my understanding of the Congolese constitution.

QUESTION: Okay. And then also, what is the U.S.’ position on – as I understand it, there is a move for indirect elections upcoming, versus direct elections?

MR. FEINGOLD: We have not taken a formal position on this. I can tell you that I spent nine days just listening to people all over this country, particularly in the east. There was almost unanimous opposition to the idea of indirect election of provincial governors.

As a personal matter, if somebody in the United States knows the history of our indirect election of United States senators, that was a terrific way to have horrible corruption that led to the direct election of United States senators. We had even an interesting moment in Illinois not too long ago that had to do with this issue.

So I think – I personally think it would be something they might want to avoid. I think it could be destabilizing as well, just as a personal viewpoint. But I’m not speaking here that this is our official U.S. Government view. But it seems to me the popular election of officials is better. But this is not of the same status, frankly, as the executive term limits.

QUESTION: Okay. And who is putting the idea forward of the direct elections, if it’s facing —

MR. FEINGOLD: It has been suggested by the head of the CENI, the C-E-N-I, the election commission, Abbe Malu Malu, who provided two choices to the national parliament. His first choice was direct local elections followed by – the second year by indirect provincial elections. In other words, the local officials elected and then presidential. His second alternative involved having the provincial elections in the same year as the presidential elections, and making them direct. And these matters are being considered, as I understand, by the Congolese parliament at this time.

QUESTION: Is it more difficult to make the argument for respecting executive term limits in Kinshasa, when this president’s main rival looks to Kigali and Kampala, and two guys that have been there way longer than two terms?

MR. FEINGOLD: It is a message that has to be consistently delivered throughout the region. It is fair for any of the presidents in the region to expect that we would take the position, same position, in all the countries in the region. I am special envoy to the region, and this is a message that we believe applies in all situations equally.

QUESTION: This is – I mean, you’ve been saying already to the president, this is not a new thing that’s going to happen today, the first time —

MR. FEINGOLD: I was asked about this in Kinshasa in January, and spoke very clearly that this was our position. I know the Secretary has already repeated this to the foreign minister yesterday. There are no surprises here. We respect the sovereignty of this nation, and certainly do not believe we should be directing the way they run their country, but we do not believe in, at the last minute, telling people our thoughts about this. We are up front as Americans, and we are up front in saying it is unwise for the future positive movement of this country to change this constitution.

This country has shown that it was capable of having a presidential election in 2006, which defied the expectations of the international community. It would be a terrific thing that it could show that it can follow its constitution and hold free, fair, and transparent elections with the opposition in advance, as we agree to these modalities for the election. It would be a major step forward for the role that I think the D.R.C. is destined to play in Africa and throughout the world.

QUESTION: You haven’t spoken about the LRA yet. Could you bring us up to speed on that?

MR. FEINGOLD: It’s not within my mandate.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MR. FEINGOLD: I wrote the legislation as a senator relating to this. My senior advisor worked on this issue in the past. I’m pleased that the United States is continuing its efforts in that regard, but I’m not the guy to be holding forth on that today.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: All right.

MR. FEINGOLD: Okay. Thanks.


Somalia: Security Council condemns latest terrorist bombing in Mogadishu

The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the latest terrorist bomb attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu, for which the Islamic insurgent group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility and which has caused numerous deaths and injuries.

The members of the Security Council condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” the 15-member body said in a statement issued to the press this afternoon.

According to media reports, at least six people were killed and several more were injured yesterday in the bombing when a remote controlled device was detonated on a crowded street in Mogadishu. News agencies suggest that a former Government official, who was among those killed in the attack, was being targeted.

If those reports bear out, this will be latest in a wave of recent attacks against the Government of the long-troubled Horn of Africa nation. In mid-April, two Somali parliamentarians were killed in separate incidents: a shooting and a car bombing.

February was also marked by violence, with a suicide bombing near the country’s intelligence headquarters and an attack, for which Al-Shabaab also claimed responsibility, on the presidential compound in Mogadishu.

In their statement on the latest violence, the Council members emphasized that neither this nor any other terrorist attack would undermine their support to the people of Somalia. “In that context, the members of the Security Council underlines their enduring support for the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia,” it said.

The Council also reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, wherever and whenever and by whomsoever committed.”

Expressing their condolences to the families of the victims, the Council members also wished a swift recovery to those injured.

SOURCE: AFRICAN RENEWAL