Are African Strongmen Being Chosen Over African Civil Society?

US Africa Summit 2014:   Where is the Voice of Africans?





August 3, 2014,

Washington, DC–. Mr. Obang Metho, the Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), a non-violent, non-political, grassroots social justice movement of diverse Ethiopians; committed to bringing truth, justice, freedom, equality, reconciliation, accountability and respect for human and civil rights to the people of Ethiopia and beyond, shares some of his thoughts on the upcoming US Africa Summit.

The US is in the middle of a dilemma this coming week as some fifty-one African presidents and unknown numbers of African diplomats converge on Washington D.C. from August 4-6 for what is being called historic, the first US Africa Summit. It appears from the agenda that the emphasis will be on encouraging US Africa trade, investment and business partnerships; however, the mediators of any new deals are some of Africa’s numerous authoritarian leaders, seen by many Africans as responsible for many of their woes. At the same time, the absence of members of African civil society has stirred up strong sentiments in the African Diaspora and they are talking, something that could not be done without fear of retribution in many of these countries.

One of those voices comes from Obang Metho, the Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia  who sums up his position on the US Summit as follows:

“A US Africa Summit? Good idea! A US Africa Summit to advance economic partnerships? A great idea!  A US Africa Summit without civil society? Bad idea! A US Africa Summit with only African leaders, most of whom are strongmen?  An outrageous idea!”

“The theme of this US Summit is to build the next generation, correcting what has been holding back Africa; yet, in many countries, like in Ethiopia, civil society only exists in exile. If African civil society is denied a place at the table in a free country like the US, because no dictator wants to hear from them, let alone to sit next to them, what message of impunity will this send to these leaders or of betrayal to Africans living under such tyranny? Will this Summit result in stronger dictators or stronger institutions? We are not against talking to them, but what happens when civil society, the other part of the equation, is left out? It will only further undermine the creation of strong institutions that most of us agree are necessary for the future well being of Africa.”……

Please click on link below to read the statement in its entirety.

US Africa Summit 2014