More African countries invited to US-led Democracy Summit

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US Vice President Kamala Harris waves upon her arrival at the Kotoka International Airport on March 26, 2023 in Accra, Ghana.
US Vice President Kamala Harris waves upon her arrival at the Kotoka International Airport on March 26, 2023 in Accra, Ghana.
Ernest Ankomah/Getty Images
  • Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mauritania and Mozambique were invited to the second Democracy Summit.
  • Zimbabwe and Eswatini were not invited although they are set to have elections later this year.
  • US Vice President Kamala Harris is expected in Zambia later during the summit.

Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mauritania, and Mozambique are set to join other African countries who were invited to a three-day US-led Democracy Summit, a mostly virtual affair co-hosted by Zambia, Costa Rica, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands.

This will be a follow-up summit to the inaugural gathering of 2021.

Zimbabwe and Eswatini were not invited again although both have democratic elections slated for later this year.

The summit's importance to the US cannot be over emphasised. 

Of concern is the backsliding of democracy in Africa, mostly in West Africa where coups are making a comeback.

The summit is also of importance to the US since its rivals, China and Russia, are gaining ground on the continent.

During the first summit, Tanzania was excluded because of a lack of democracy under the late John Magafuli.

With Samia Suluhu Hassan now in power, she has returned the country to political pluralism.

Last month, former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu returned home from years of exile in Belgium after Hassan lifted a ban on political rallies.

Ivory Coast was invited since the country has gradually returned to political stability after tensions reached extreme levels after the 2021 general elections.

In 2021, Mozambique was ranked low in the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index and was flagged as moving from "a hybrid regime to an authoritarian one".

The country was also ranked low by the Ibrahim Index of African Governance at 26th out of 54.

However, this time around there is a considerable improvement ahead of the general elections next year.

Mauritania and Gambia were also invited for the first time as part of the US' policy on integrating more countries into its democracy promotion.

The National Security Council's senior director for democracy and human rights, Rob Berschinski, told journalists the summit was more welcoming this time around.

"This is a summit for democracy; it's not necessarily a summit of democracies, and despite the fact that we are pitching an extraordinarily large tent, we need to draw the line somewhere. 

He said:

So, our main message to governments around the world is, as we always do, we want to engage on matters of democratic renewal, strengthening institutions that reflect popular will, and accountability, and transparency. That's not limited, of course, to the Summit for Democracy.

US Vice President Kamala Harris is currently on a three-nation African tour that has so far taken her to Ghana. 

She will also make a trip to Tanzania and finally to Democracy Summit hosts Zambia.

Harris' trip aims to build on the promises made during the US Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC in December last year.

As the most senior US official to visit Africa so far, it is expected she will set the stage for a visit by President Joe Biden, which he promised African leaders at the December meet. 

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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