Biden promises to rebuild ties with AU

US President Joe Biden promised to rebuild his country’s partnership with the African Union (AU) moments after he delivered his first foreign policy speech since taking office.

His predecessor, Donald Trump, sparked a row in 2018 over his alleged use of the word “shithole” to describe African nations.

Mr Trump later denied that he is racist.

On Friday the White House tweeted a video of President Biden’s remarks to the continental body ahead of its 34th summit.

He said: “My administration is committing to rebuilding our partnership around the world and reengaging with international institutions like the African Union.

“We also must confront the serious challenges we face. That includes investing more in global health, defeating Covid-19 and working to prevent, detect and respond to future health crises, and partnering with the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other institutions to advance health security.”

President Biden also promised to engage the AU in addressing conflicts on the continent.

But aside from the failure to release tax returns, undermining intelligence agencies and contradicting scientists in the midst of a pandemic, the events of January6, when the president’s supporters stormed the US Capitol, showed that this went beyond one man.

Mr Biden takes over in the White House with the knowledge that the world no longer respects the United States in the same way.

And this could have implications for governance across the continent.

Presidents no longer hold the US in awe and will find it easier to dismiss concerns about democratic processes.

In the run-up to the vote in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni told a Channel 4 reporter that his administration’s crackdown on protesters was aimed at preventing scenes similar to what unfolded in Washington.

Despite the heightened security, there was an orderly transfer of power in the US and Congress has gone back to the business of legislating suggesting the importance of strong institutions that rise above the individual.

Also, President Biden may now know what it feels like to live in a country where individual leaders can easily trample on norms and conventions.

Nevertheless, he will now need to tread more carefully when it comes to relations with Africa and he’ll need to carefully weigh up any words of advice.–BBC

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