U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to deliver a major speech on the Biden administration’s Africa policy Thursday in Nigeria on the second leg of his three-nation tour of the continent.
The U.S. State Department says Blinken will hold talks with his Nigerian counterpart, Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, as well as President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo after his arrival in the capital, Abuja. Among the topics they will cover are furthering cooperation on global health security, expanding energy access and economic growth, and revitalizing democracy.
Democracy was a key topic of Blinken’s first stop in Kenya Wednesday, telling a group of human rights activists Wednesday in Nairobi that the world is undergoing a “recession” of democracy. He warned that “even vibrant democracies like Kenya” have become increasingly vulnerable to misinformation, corruption, political violence and voter intimidation.
“The United States is hardly immune from this challenge,” Blinken said in an apparent reference to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-president Donald Trump in an attempt to force lawmakers to disqualify Joe Biden’s victory in last November’s presidential election. “We’ve seen how fragile our own democracy can be.”
Before Blinken’s departure from Nairobi, he announced that the United States was removing Nigeria from a list of nations that violate religious freedom.
Blinken’s African tour, which concludes with a visit to Senegal, is partially aimed at raising America’s profile as a key player in the region as it competes with China.
Despite its large contributions of money and vaccines to contain COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the United States has had little success in gaining influence in the region.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.