-Africa is traditionally a bi-partisan issue says Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas Greenfield
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Departing Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield is urging patience for those eager to see signals from the Trump Administration on its African Policy. The Administration is barely a month in Office and needs time Ambassador Greenfield said, in response to questions from restive Africans on what to possibly expect .
Speaking at a public address at the Atlantic Council on the theme “Africa’s Place on the World Stage,” Ambassador Greenfield said Africa has traditionally been a non-partisan issue. The Obama Administration certainly had its own challenges putting in place a policy though there was more optimism because of his African roots. Ambassador Greenfield indicated that it was too early for people to be in panic mood on the fate of U.S African relations as the new Administration is still putting in place its own team. Ambassador Greenfield said she expects relations to remain strong as the US will remain a committed partner to Africa.
Capping a sterling 35-year Foreign Service Career, Ambassador Greenfield used the address to paint a glossy picture of perspectives in Africa. Problems do not define Africa, as the continent is full of best opportunities and talent, she said. Ambassador Greenfield offered insights into issues that defined her stint in office like partnerships with Africa to counter terrorism, economic growth and development, security challenges, and how to provide opportunities for the surging Youth population.
Despite the odds, the Africa has made tremendous progress, Ambassador Greenfield said. My last trip to Gambia for the inauguration of President Adama Barrow felt like a victory lap, she said, describing it as an opportunity to celebrate success and not resolve a crisis.
Ambassador Greenfield cited the USA-Africa leaders submit, the 2015 Presidential elections in Nigeria and the recent peaceful transition in Gambia as some of the best moments of her stint as the USA top Diplomat on Africa, which started in 2013.
Speaking of the 2015 elections in Nigeria, Ambassador Greenfield said no one was sure how things were going to turn out even after Secretary of State John Kerry personally made trips to talk to leading actors. Greenfield who was in Nigeria for the elections said she saw firsthand the resolve of Nigerians to make things work. Former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded gracefully and the trend has picked up in a number of African countries, Ambassador Greenfield said.
On regrets, Ambassador Greenfield cited South Sudan where the promise of hope for Africa’s newest nation turned to a nightmare with a civil that has created a humanitarian crisis.
In the course of her Career, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield served in Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia, Nigeria and as Ambassador to Liberia. The event at the Atlantic Council was a crowd puller with over a dozen Ambassadors from African countries, State Department Officials, African Policy gurus, civil society actors and Journalist all present to listen to the parting comments of Ambassador Greenfield on Africa, a continent she has a particular fondness for. The event was also attended by three of her predecessors Herman Cohen who served under President Reagan, Jendayi Frazer who served under President George .W.Bush and Johnnie Carson who served in the first Obama term.
Ambassador Greenfield is expected to take up Fellowship at the George Washington University. J.Peter Pham whose name is reportedly in the mix of potential candidates to replace Ambassador Greenfield introduced her at the event.