Home Agenda US Secretary of State talks about security and democracy in Nigeria

US Secretary of State talks about security and democracy in Nigeria

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ABUJA, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday and discussed internal and regional security, and the democratic setback in West Africa, including the Abuja’s handling of protests against police brutality last year.

Blinken’s trip to Nigeria came days after a leaked report said the Nigerian military fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters at a toll booth in Lagos in October 2020 and called the incident ” massacre”. Read more

Blinken told a joint press conference with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama that based on the report’s findings, the authorities should “hold accountable all those responsible for human rights abuses, and hold them accountable. new in full transparency ”.

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The administration of US President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that upholding human rights and improving democracies around the world are at the heart of its foreign policy, even though critics have said that promoting human rights human rights often take a back seat to the preservation of national security priorities.

Buhari, in the government’s first official comment on the substance of the damning report, told Blinken that his administration would take the lead from the state governments that commissioned the report.

“We in the federal government have to wait for the actions of the states and we have to allow the system to work. We cannot impose ideas on them,” Buhari said in a statement after his meeting with Blinken.

The US State Department said Blinken and Buhari discussed Nigeria’s security challenges and stressed the importance of “strengthening the democratic principles of a free press and digital freedom, peaceful protests and dissent, as well. than respect for human rights ”.

The shootings ended weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality and sparked the worst civil unrest in Nigeria since the return to civilian rule in 1999.

Blinken’s trip to Africa in three countries began in Kenya, where he reiterated his calls for an unconditional ceasefire in the Ethiopian conflict and called for a return to civil democracy in Sudan after the coup. last month. Read more

The top US diplomat said he had discussed support for building the capacity of the Nigerian military, but in a way that fully respects human rights. Nigeria has been fighting Islamist insurgents in the northeast of the country for more than a decade.

Blinken’s trip to the region comes at a time of several crises plaguing the continent, including the war in northern Ethiopia and the military coup in Sudan.

He said the United States was deeply concerned about the violence used by the Sudanese military against civilian protesters.

“The military must respect the rights of civilians to assemble peacefully and express their opinions,” Blinken said.

Blinken will set out in a speech on Friday the Biden administration’s policy towards Africa.

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Written by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson, Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler

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