Full Transcript of Press Availability by Ambassador Nikki Haley at the African Union

Addis Ababa, October 24, 2017 (GMN) - Ambassador Haley: Alright, if everyone is ready please just give me thumbs up that you ready will go across ready? Are you ready? ready?  Ok very good. Well, first of all we are thrilled to be in Addis and obviously trilled to be here at the AU.

I had a wonderful meeting with the AU Commissioner and really talked about a lot of issues. We talked about peace and security,  we talked about health, we talked about women’s issues, we talked about our vision and how we go forward and how we can have a better, healthier African Union in terms of all the countries involved.

The U.S. very much sees Africa as the important part of the world. We see great opportunities in Africa. We see challenges in Africa. But we want to support and help in those situations. But most importantly we want to see how we can partner together. Whether that is through economic development, whether it is through strategic practices, whether it is through political solutions. We had a nice meeting today with the PM as well. And we talked about the strength of IGAD. We know the strength of the AU and know what a leader the AU has been for so many countries and around the world that something that the U.S. looks to as well. And so I hope that this is the beginning of what is going to be a stronger relationship with the AU and our African partners.

Question – (inaudible)  Ethiopia is Chair of IGAD …your next stop is IGAD and is IGAD and the AU doing enough…?

Ambassador Haley:  I think they both are equally concerned when we talked about IGAD. I think they really are going through a process to see what they could do. They are going to look into the revitalizing reforms that they want to push forward.

But I think if there is not a response from South Sudan, you will continue to see added pressure coming from the IGAD and I think that the AU obviously is going to continue to move and work with the IGAD as they goes forward. Our goal is to have one voice [saying] we have to see peace in South Sudan.  We have to see that women are being taken care of. We can’t see any more death. We can’t see any more famine. We’ve got to start seeing the situation get better and I think that the pressure is only going to continue until President Kirr makes the difference in that area.

Question – inaudible (Ambassador….about South Sudan)

Ambassador Haley: What we’ve found, and it’s not just in Africa, around the world what we have seen is when a country doesn’t take care of its people, conflict follows. So whether it’s a humanitarian situation, whether it is being able to have their public voice, whether it is being able to access [basic goods], all of those things are very important.

So you look at the South Sudan situation, and [to see people] denied access to humanitarian needs, to see the conflict that is going on, to see a government that is ignoring its people, leads to conflict and we are seeing that situation deteriorate. And what happens is when that conflict hits, it also becomes a breeding ground for extremist groups. And that is what we don’t want.

We have partnered with the AU. We will certainly partner with our African friends in terms of defeating terrorism and going against Boko Haram and trying to really do some things to make a difference. What we don’t want to see is further breeding ground for that to happen. And so we are willing to partner with them.

Question – Continuing on that thought, what kind of particular pressure can you bring. Other U.S. officials have spoken about the possibility of cutting U.S. aid. Do you think that the possibility of removing some U.S. aid might reward (inaudible)

Ambassador Haley: So first to go back to that you know when you look at South Sudan, you have to really think hard before you pull U.S. aid because President Kirr doesn’t care if we pull U.S. aid. He doesn’t care if his people suffer.

And that is the concern we have as we don’t know that it will make a difference by pulling U.S. aid or not. That is the conversation we will have. And we will try and see exactly what will move President Kirr so that he does take the moral high ground and start to really look at creating a safe position for his people.

In reference to the U.S. at the UN, we very much are trying to do our part. But our part really is anywhere from humanitarian aid to peace and security, to helping with political situations, but more importantly building relationships. The U.S. really wants to see how we can further grow our relationships for the good of everyone. And so you have seen us do that whether it is going through and reforming peacekeeping efforts, whether it is going through and dealing with North Korea, whether we are looking at countering terrorism in Iraq and Syria and dealing with that situation, we are going to continue to do that. The U.S. is going to continue to have a loud voice to help bring peace and stability around the world.

Question – Ambassador, Somalia President Mohammed Abdullahi is here soliciting more military support against the growing insurgency of Al-Shabaab. We know what happened in Mogadishu last week. So how much of a concern is this to the U.S. and the wider globe…

Ambassador Haley: The U.S. is very concerned. Look, these are our brothers and sisters. You know when we look at Africa, those are our brothers and sisters and if there is a threat to them, there is a threat to us. And so we want to make sure that we are doing everything that we can.

We have always given a lot of support to AMISOM, we have also worked in counterterrorism efforts with all of our partners in Africa as well. We are going to continue to do that we think that it is extremely important that we fight terrorism everywhere. And that we make sure specially with all the youth in Africa, especially with all the youth in Africa, we have got to make sure that we are providing opportunities and good situations they can go into so they don’t go to those extremist groups.

Question – Does the U.S. support the exclusion of the rebel leader Riek Machar from the South Sudan peace process?

Ambassador Haley: I am not going to say anything on that right now. What I can tell you is we support IGAD and we support what they are doing.

Question – Thank you very much Ambassador. When it comes to the situation in Somalia, the AU has AMISOM. They have done a great job so far. They are short of funds and the mission cannot continue in this situation. What is going to be the support for the AU at the moment? And from the AU’s side what is really expected from the international community to support the fight against Al-Shabaab.

Ambassador Haley: We have always been a strong supporter of the AU and we have continued to give to the AU peace funds; we’ve continued to give bilaterally; we are going to continue to do all of those things. That is something the U.S. feels very strongly about. And you won’t see that go away.

You will continue to see our support to health programs and many other things we have done in the past will continue. And so we are going to continue to look to the AU for guidance. We are going to continue to look to IGAD to see how they think we can best support. Our goal is to try and support a situation so that we have stronger stability here as opposed to anything that would weaken the area.

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Minata Samate Cessouma: The African Union is concerned about the situation in Somalia and we need support from the international community, as you said about funding to support AMISOM which is doing a very, very good job. And we appreciate today Ambassador Nikki Haley told us that America will continue to support AMISOM.

We need the support of all African partners, African Union partners and the international community, to support AMISOM and all those conflicts to find solution. In Africa it is very important for us. Without peace, without stability, without security, we won’t have peace in Africa.  And Somalia is a very very big concern for us and we are working together as Ambassador said to talk in one voice.

We agreed to strengthen our relationship to support our cooperation and to find solution in some countries we discussed about DRC, South Sudan and we appreciate the visit of Ambassador Nikki Haley in Ethiopia and specially at the AU Headquarters.

Question – Ambassador you are making a trip to DRC?  What is your concern about DRC during your trip and (inaudible) how about the political situation in Kenya ?

Ambassador Haley: So we obviously talked about Democratic Republic of Congo. Very concerned that the situation is deteriorating.   There is a constitution. The constitution says there should be free and fair elections, then we are really hoping that President Kabila does the right thing.  That is really what we want to see and so we are hoping he will see the situation for what it is and a major legacy for him would be to allow for a free and fair election and for him to move sooner rather than later and not delay the process. And so that is something we look at.

We are also concerned about the people on the ground.  When you look at the environment, the situation and the humanitarian needs in that area,  access and making sure they get that is really going to be very important.

Question – About Kenya?

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Minata Samate Cessouma:  About Kenya, yes you know what happened in Kenya. And we will have election on the 26th..  And the African Union is following the situation. We appeal to all partners and parties in Kenya to take into account of interests of Kenyans.  If the peace is broken it will be a big problem for the population and for the country.

And Kenya is very very important for the African Union, for the region, and for Africa.  We are following this situation.  We have made many many appeals to partners for peace and security. There is a need to take account of the interest of Kenyans not only personal interests. We are following the question together with all partners including United States of America and other partners.

Ambassador Haley: That is right. Our biggest interest is obviously the people of Kenya, but more than anything is that we don’t want to see violence. We don’t want to see any sort of break out of violence as we go through this.  We are hoping for a peaceful election that is fair, that the people feel heard.

Thank you very much, Thank you.  

Source: U.S. Embassy Ethiopia