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Top U.S. Envoy Says Africa Making Progress Overall in Promoting Democracy

Hopes the next generation will value democracy

Washington, D.C., December 3, 2009 – Many African countries are making good progress in promoting democracy and good governance, despite some glaring examples of bad behavior, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs told the Voice of America (VOA).

Johnnie Carson, in an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Straight Talk Africa, said Ghana and South Africa are places where democracy is taking hold. Tanzania, Mali, Senegal, Malawi and Namibia also are countries where open elections have been held.

"We can only hope the next generation will value it [democracy]," Carson said.

On the other hand, Carson said countries like Zimbabwe – run for decades by the despotic regime of President Robert Mugabe – are detriments to the entire African continent.

He also criticized the actions of Mamadou Tandja, president of Niger, who earlier rewrote his country's constitution to give himself more power and extend his term in office without an election that had been due this month.

Carson said the United States is fostering development on the continent by targeting countries, not individual leaders, and by remaining neutral during the election process. For democracy to take hold, people must "feel an allegiance to the state and not to the individual."

Transparent media is a key to supporting Africa's struggling democracies, Carson said.

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