Clinton Urges African Leaders to Embrace Democracy

Posted August 1st, 2012 at 2:40 pm (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.

“It is time, it is past time, for all leaders to accept accountability, to treat their people with dignity, to respect their rights, to deliver economic opportunity and services for all. ”

Clinton criticized African leaders who had suppressed democratic reforms.

“Leaders who hold on to power at all costs, who suppress dissent, who enrich themselves, their families and their supporters at the expense of their own people, who define democracy as one election, one time, are on the wrong side of history .”

She 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.