Clinton Urges African Leaders to Embrace Democracy

Posted August 1st, 2012 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned African leaders they must respect their people's rights or be destined to lose power.

Clinton spoke Wednesday at a university in Senegal's capital, Dakar, her first stop on a 11-day African tour that will take her to at least six countries.

The secretary noted Africans are demanding change in nations where a small elite prospers while most of the population is stuck in poverty.

She said leaders who suppress dissent, refuse to give up power, and enrich themselves at the expense of their people are — in her words — “on the wrong side of history.”

Clinton also promoted the new U.S. strategy toward Africa, which she said is based on the goals of spurring development and economic growth, advancing peace and security, and strengthening democratic institutions.

This is Clinton's first trip to sub-Saharan Africa since President Barack Obama announced his new strategy in June.

Clinton met earlier Wednesday with Senegal's new president, Macky Sall, who beat predecessor Abdoulaye Wade in the March election after Wade refused to honor a two-term constitutional limit.

In her speech, she praised Senegal as a model of democracy for West Africa, and also lauded Ghana and Liberia for maintaining constitutional order in the face of recent potential crises.

On Thursday, the secretary heads to Uganda, to be followed by scheduled stops in South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. In South Africa, she is due to meet with 94-year-old former president and democracy icon Nelson Mandela.