On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement on “upcoming elections in Africa” that many found confusing and some regarded as typical of Western ignorance of the continent.
“The United States is committed to supporting free and fair elections, including the upcoming elections across Africa. We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those who undermine democracy,” Pompeo tweeted in a separate Thursday statement that mirrored the news release’s language.
However, some folks quickly picked up on the vague wording and lack of focus of Pompeo’s statement.
State Department issues a sweeping statement on "upcoming elections in Africa," doesn't clarify which of the continent's 54 countries its referring to pic.twitter.com/PDlKOwV1cD— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) October 8, 2020
Some of the elections coming up on the African continent in the next few months include Tanzania’s general election on October 28, Cote D’Ivoire’s presidential election on October 31, Burkina Faso’s general election on November 22 and Ghana’s general election on December 7.
“One could roughly compare the distance between Cote D'Ivoire and Tanzania to the distance between Norway and Iraq,” Foreign Policy writer Robbie Gramer noted. However, other people were less diplomatic.
However to many, Pompeo’s statement was not just ignorant but audacious, given the state of turmoil in the US political system, including the election processes intended to select the next president and set of lawmakers on November 3.
Not sure I have ever seen anything more ironic. Also "elections across Africa". What is that? https://t.co/GZFCsCTKHx— Cedric De Beer (@CedricDeBeer1) October 9, 2020
So, they’re committed to securing free and fair elections in Africa, but not in the US? https://t.co/uhccl6yxZx— Polly🔥brand (@PollyFirebrand) October 9, 2020
"Africa" should release a statement of concern over election rigging, voter suppression and voter intimidation in the up-coming US presidential, congressional and local elections.— Bussy Riot 🚬o🌲 (@_theekword) October 9, 2020
Before being appointed to his present position in March 2018, Pompeo was director of the Central Intelligence Agency for 15 months, an agency that has worked hard over the last 75 years to ensure that only pro-Western governments stay in power in African nations, even if they are highly undemocratic.
Just a few of the democratic leaders and movements the CIA has helped orchestrate the overthrows of include Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first democratically elected president who was assassinated in 1961 in a coup orchestrated by the US, UK and Belgium, and Kwame Nkrumah, the first democratically elected president of Ghana, who was overthrown in 1966.
The CIA also gave the administration of South African President Charles Swart a tip that led to the arrest of Nelson Mandela in 1962, and it gave heavy support to the UNITA and FNLA parties after the pro-Soviet MPLA led Angola to independence from Portugal in 1974. The spy agency also helped Hissene Habri come to power in Chad in 1982, overthrowing the Transitional Government of National Unity under Goukouni Oueddei that aimed to heal the wounds of a brutal civil war.