Authoritarian Leaders In Africa Celebrate Trump Victory

Nov 13, 2016
Originally published on November 13, 2016 5:33 pm
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We move now to the continent of Africa. While there are more questions than answers about President-elect Donald Trump's foreign policy priorities, Africa has barely registered on his radar, at least publicly. Apart from some provocative comments about Muslims and immigration, very little is known of Mr. Trump's views about the continent. However, Africa seems to have some views already about Donald Trump.

NPR's Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has been monitoring reaction, and she's with us now on the line from her base in Dakar, Senegal. Ofeibea, thanks so much for joining us.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Greetings.

MARTIN: So who in Africa is saying what about Donald Trump?

QUIST-ARCTON: He's received congratulations from many African leaders, including those they call the sit-tight leaders, the overstayers, the dictators, the despots, the tyrants. It seems that some of Africa's leaders, especially those who aren't popular in their own home countries, are, if not rejoicing and jubilating that they've got President Obama and Hillary Clinton off their backs, they are certainly saying, oh, those who have been hectoring us about human rights, about gay rights, about all sorts of things are no longer going to be in Washington, so phew. But who knows what Donald Trump's views are?

MARTIN: Well, what about Africa's first and only elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. Has she been heard from?

QUIST-ARCTON: Oh, yes. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says she's extremely saddened by the defeat of Hillary Clinton. She describes this as a missed opportunity to advance women's rights. And she told the BBC that she was hoping that things would change and that there would be a woman leader in the U.S. but that Africa and Liberia, which has such close historical ties with the U.S., must give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, even though the continent, she notes, knows very little about his Africa policy.

MARTIN: Well, we know that Donald Trump has made some outspoken comments about trade in particular. He has - he says he does not favor most of the existing free-trade agreements. Any sense of what that would mean for Africa?

QUIST-ARCTON: It's what a lot of people here are asking, what will it mean for AGOA, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which had preferential trade agreements for Africa, that allowed Africa to sell its goods to the U.S. - because Donald Trump has, of course, said if the U.S. isn't getting a lot out of it, he's going to cancel these sorts of agreement. And then, of course, the - probably even more important is the U.S.'s continued commitment to fight extremist violence and terrorism across the continent from Boko Haram in Nigeria via Mali and the Sahel to Libya and, of course, al-Shabaab in Somalia. You know, the U.S. has just started building a drone base in Niger. What is going to be President-elect Trump's commitment to the continued fight, which, of course, has been a huge part of U.S.-Africa policy to date?

MARTIN: That was NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, speaking to us from Dakar, Senegal, sharing her reporting about Africa's reaction to the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.