The African Union says the ‘shithole’ remarks allegedly made against African countries by U.S. President Donald Trump, has been resolved.
Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Mahamat, said at a news conference with visiting U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, at the Commission’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.
He said that the “incident is of the past” and that the Africa-U.S. relation was cordial.
Mahamat also disclosed that following the remark, which was viewed as offensive and insensitive to Africa, Trump wrote a letter to him and that he copied all the leaders of Africa.
Mahamat said: “Yes, I confirm that I received a letter dated 25 January written by President Trump to me, and which I have also copied to all the leaders of Africa.
“And I believe that this incident is of the past.
“And the evidence of the relations between Africa and the United States is personified through his (Tillerson’s) visit; I believe reasonably this partnership has produced results.
“It is useful for both parties, whether in the area of trade or investment, or whether it is peace and stability in Africa.”
Mahamat, on Tillerson’s remarks about China’s roles in Africa, said the African continent had many partnerships.
According to him, Africans are mature enough to engage in partnerships of their own volition which will be useful for the countries and the continent.
He said: “So there is no monopoly. We have multifaceted, multifarious relations with other parts of the world. We know where our interests’ lies and it is our full awareness I think that is most important.”
Tillerson, in his response, said the U.S. commitment to Africa was quite clear in terms of the importance the country placed on the relationship.
He said: “The President himself wrote a personal letter to the chairperson, reaffirming the importance of this relationship from the standpoint of all aspects that I covered in answering a previous question.”
With respect to China’s approach, Tillerson reiterated that the U.S. was not in any way attempting to keep Chinese investment dollars out of Africa.
He said: “They are badly needed. However, we think it’s important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those investments, and we witness the model that the Chinese follow.
“They – Chinese – do not bring significant job creation locally; they don’t bring significant training programmes that enable African citizens to participate more fully in the future.
“And oftentimes, the financing models are structured in a way that the country, when it gets into trouble financially, loses control of its own infrastructure or its own resources through default.”
According to him, the U.S. message is for countries to consider carefully what the terms of those agreements are, and not forfeit any elements of your sovereignty as you enter into such arrangements with China.
He said U.S. welcomed Chinese participation, but hoped they would follow international rules, international norms, and respect the sovereignty of countries.
And respect the need to develop the citizens of those countries as well as create a future for the people.