Africa Regional Media Hub
Telephonic Conference Call with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
On Friday, March 9th, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman briefed journalists across the continent on the final stop of her March 3-11 visit to Nigeria, Angola, Malawi, Zambia and Kenya. Under Secretary Sherman traveled to the region to hold discussions with national leaders to exchange views, underscore U.S. interests, and strengthen collaborative efforts that promote good governance, economic growth, regional security, social development, and human rights. Speaking from Nairobi, Kenya, Under Secretary Sherman provided a read-out of her trip and answered questions from journalists.
- Part 1 of 5 (MP3 - 2.97mb)
- Part 2 of 5 (MP3 - 2.79mb)
- Part 3 of 5 (MP3 - 3.93mb)
- Part 4 of 5 (MP3 - 6.17mb)
- Part 5 of 5 (MP3 - 5.82mb)
See transcript below...
March 2, 2012 Media Note: Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Sherman to Visit Africa
Wendy R. Sherman
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Term of Appointment: 09/21/2011 to present
Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman was sworn in as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs on September 21, 2011.
Prior to this position, Under Secretary Sherman served as Vice Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and a member of the Investment Committee of Albright Capital Management, an affiliated investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets.
Ambassador Sherman served as Counselor for the State Department from 1997 to 2001, as well as Special Advisor to President Clinton and Policy Coordinator on North Korea. From 1993 to 1996, under Secretary of State Warren Christopher, she was Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs.
Ambassador Sherman served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Oxfam America. She also served on the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board, a group tasked with providing the Secretary of Defense with independent, informed advice and opinion concerning matters of defense policy.
In 2008, Ambassador Sherman was appointed by Congressional Leadership to serve on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism.
Ambassador Sherman attended Smith College, and received a B.A. cum laude from Boston University and a Master’s degree in Social Work, Phi Kappa Phi, from the University of Maryland.
Okay. Welcome everybody. Sorry for the brief delay. I would like to welcome everyone here in the
room and also the journalists that are participating from around the continent.
It is a telephone conference call so we
share the questions and answers with other reporters around the continent. We are here today to welcome Under Secretary
for Political Affairs Ambassador Wendy Sherman on a five country trip here in
will begin with brief remarks from Under Secretary
SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you very much, and thank you for this
opportunity to talk with all of you and to talk with Africans throughout the
continent. I am delighted to be here. I have spent the week in
I am here to try to support economic diversification and development. I am here to support long-term security for
the people of
know that there has been a lot in the press that
QUESTION: Hi, I am George Obulutsa with Reuters News. Many people are expressing concern about the President of Malawi, you have just come straight from that. What was your impression during your visit of the country and the President’s recent actions?
SECRETARY SHERMAN: All right, thank you. I came away from
I also saw some areas of concern. There
is an economic crisis in
U.S. Government has a long history with
MODERATOR: All right, now when we get a Malawian journalist on the line they will have to ask a quick Kenya question when they get the chance. Sara, do you have anything?
QUESTION: I was just wondering, sorry; I am Sara McGregor, from Bloomberg. In your talks about Kenya was there any discussion about preparations for elections and whether you were trying to encourage the decision of an election date for the upcoming general election?
SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, I just arrived here last evening, so I
will be having two days of meetings here in
name is Judy Kaberia. I am from Capital
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, I think my sense is that Kenyans are very committed to this constitutional reform and to the political process, that Kenyans have made a commitment to their own future. You can’t ask for any more than that from citizens. They understand, I think, that this is a process, that it will take time, that there will be ups and downs. Even in my country, with all humility, we are the oldest democracy in the world, and yet we are still perfecting our process. We still have bumps and problems and issues that we have to address every single day to perfect our democracy.
I know Kenyans do not want to return to violence. I know that Kenyans want a peaceful process
and are working very hard to put the mechanics and the pieces in place – the legislation,
the infrastructure – to ensure the reforms that they have chosen. And that is a very exciting and promising
process. I should have mentioned at the
start, I am sitting here, for those of you who can’t see, with Ambassador Scott
Gration, who is the U.S. Ambassador to
Ambassador Sherman, my name is Mabu Sibanda, of
The Nation newspaper here in
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank
you for that question. For those of you
who don’t know, the reporter is asking me about the Millennium Challenge
Compact [MCC] that the
We, of course, had discussions about it. I think the government of
Whether the MCC moves forward at this moment
or not, the US Government provides an enormous array of assistance to
QUESTION: Ambassador Sherman, my name is Marcus Muhariwa from the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. You said that you had a chance of meeting some government officials. I just wanted to find out if you can share some of the things that you discussed with them?
SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, we discussed a
whole range of interests between our countries. We discussed our strong historical partnership.
We discussed our ongoing friendship and
desire to support
QUESTION: Good morning Ms. Sherman. I want to turn your attention a little further
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you. Actually, at almost every stop that I have made on this particular trip to Africa, I have asked for advice and thoughts and council about how we can help, and urged leaders here to urge then, in fact, in Zimbabwe to move forward on the roadmap that has been laid out for where we are headed, and on the global political agreement that has been agreed to. And urged everyone to urge Zimbabwe to move forward in making that global political agreement real, but this is a very tough situation, and so we welcome every government effort to move forward in that direction. Any thoughts they have for us in ways that we can be more effective in that, but it is a very difficult situation, no doubt about it.
MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. All right, let’s go over here.
QUESTION: Hello, I am Fred Omulo, KTN, Kenya Television Network. The intervention of Kenya in Southern Somalia by Kenyan forces has resulted in [begins again], the intervention of Kenya in Somalia has resulted in a brief insecurity situation. Is America thinking of ways to partner with Kenya as it trys to address security problems in Somalia?
SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank
you for that question. We are obviously
supporting the re-hatting of Kenyan forces as part of AMISOM, and we hope that
Kenya will, soon, either through some mechanism, affirm that with the African
Union which is really in the lead on this effort, and, in that regard, as now a
part of AMISOM. The
QUESTION: Dinah Ondani, The People newspaper. Can you tell us the message that you have for the Kenyan leadership that you are going to meet over the next two days? Another question is regarding the elections, can you [words indistinct] quantify U.S. support for the next general elections?
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you. I think my message here is what I have already said to you, which is, really, encouragement and affirmation of the choice that Kenyans have made for themselves on the future they want, which is a future of reform and democracy and not one of violence, and we see that the institutions are being put in place. Civic education is quite crucial to that process, so we would encourage that to occur and that investment be made into civic education so that Kenyans throughout the country understand that even though this will be a process of devolution, it is about Kenya as a nation and how all the pieces fit together and how all Kenyans need to participate in the process.
will be urging that all of the reform processes move forward – legislative,
constitutional, there has already been judicial reform that has begun – that
the election mechanisms be put in place, as I said earlier, that a date be put
in place as soon as possible. The date
is totally up to
GRATION: Thank you very much. Of course we are interested in the process,
to make sure that Kenya has everything it needs to ensure the process is free, fair,
credible, transparent and, of course, peaceful. The international community works very closely
together because this isn’t just something that the
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: And we are providing some financial support to the process as we generally do.
MODERATOR: I have
one more question from
Thank you. My name is Abdirahma Hussen. I’m from Radio Bar-kulan.
My question regards to Somalia is the TFG
forces, along with AMISOM and Ethiopian forces, have recently been capturing cities
which are in Somalia. And the President
of the TFG, Sharif, has requested the international community, that the arms
embargo should be lifted. Does
SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you for that question. I
will be meeting with Somali officials tomorrow, and we look forward to hearing
directly from them their interest and taking that back to the
But the long term future of Somalia is really about a political process, and I will be urging the TFG, and I will be urging the people of Somalia to move forward with the Djibouti peace process, with the Roadmap for ending the transition, with the Garowe process, to ensure that there is in fact the institutions and the mechanisms for a government and for governance of Somalia. So I think it is very important, as we are all focused on the re-hatting of Kenya, on the actions the Ethiopia has taken, and we are looking at that and considering what is the best way forward in that regard, that we also focus attention on the political process and the Roadmap to make sure that, in fact, if we get the security environment that everyone hopes for, for the Somali people, that we have a political process in place that allows the country to move forward in peace and security.
MODERATOR: We are beginning to run out of time. Carrie, do you some in the queue?
MODERATOR: Thank you.
QUESTION: Okay. I have a short question for you. This is on the relationship between Western donors and government. I wanted to get your perspective on this in the context of the latest comments by the president that donors are planning to fund projects against his government. What is your perspective on this comment and whether these issues [words indistinct]?
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: One of my colleagues heard the question, it was a little bit garbled coming through. If I understand you correctly, you are asking about the relationship between Western donors and the comments made by the president the other day? Is that correct?
QUESTION: Yes that is correct.
SECRETARY SHERMAN: Okay. We, obviously, regret the comments of the president
the other day because it appeared that he had concern that donors were somehow
undermining the sovereign decisions of
believe in the importance of civil society. We believe that civil society is crucial to
the development and sustainability of any democracy. We believe that international funding of NGOs
is a common practice throughout the world, and our NGOs are funded by people
from all over the world, not just by Americans. And we certainly believe that in a democracy,
citizens have a right to speak out for their objectives. I don’t agree in the
MODERATOR: All right, we have a final question from
QUESTION: Just a quick one, you mentioned about an
upcoming AU meeting in
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: I did not have any discussion about that, so we will see what happens in the days and weeks ahead.
MODERATOR: All right, if there are no further questions,
I would like to thank the journalists here in
UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you all very much.