US Secretary of State Antony Blinken & Cabo Verde Foreign Minister Luis Filipe Tavares shake hands at the Nelson Mandela Praia International Airport, Cape Verde, Jan. 22, 2024

Antony Blinken opens African tour in Cape Verde

By Rédaction Africanews and AP

CAPEVERDE – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarks on a week-long tour of Africa’s west coast with the primary objective of sustaining US influence in the face of strong competition from Beijing and Moscow, coupled with escalating instability in the Sahel region.

Beginning his journey with a brief stopover in Cape Verde, Blinken’s subsequent destinations include Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Angola.

This marks his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa in ten months, occurring amid the dominant international focus on the Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas conflict. Despite President Joe Biden’s unfulfilled promise to visit Africa in 2023, Blinken’s tour comes at a time of evolving political landscapes since his last visit to the region in March 2023.

Notably, political changes in Niger, where Blinken previously supported elected President Mohamed Bazoum, have occurred. Following a military coup that ousted Bazoum, the new regime is diversifying its partnerships, including strengthening ties with Moscow and ousting French soldiers.

Russia has expanded its influence in several French-speaking African countries, raising concerns about security in the Sahel, where jihadist groups continue to conduct attacks.

In response to the unstable Sahel situation, the United States is considering alternative locations for a drone base, emphasizing stability in coastal countries. Antony Blinken’s West African visit aims to assist these countries comprehensively in strengthening their societies and combating the expanding terrorist threat in the Sahel.

Arriving in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where he plans to attend a decisive match in the African Cup of Nations (CAN), Blinken will commend the country’s democratic consolidation since Alassane Ouattara came to power in 2011.

Côte d’Ivoire, bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, has successfully contained the jihadist threat, employing a multifaceted approach combining military responses with economic development.

The Biden administration’s ten-year plan, announced last year, focuses on promoting stability and preventing conflict in coastal countries such as Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Togo, departing from a security-centric approach.

In Cape Verde, Blinken’s initial stop, the United States has praised the democratic stability of the Portuguese-speaking archipelago.

The US has contributed around $150 million through various programs, including the expansion of the capital’s port, road improvements, and enhancements to the drinking water distribution system, with a third aid program currently under consideration.

Additional sources • Nadia Colombe Gbané

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