3 October 2007

Nigeria: U.S. Troops Not Welcome On African Soil, Says Maduekwe

Washington DC — Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe yesterday gave indications that Nigeria would not support the deployment of United States (U.S.) combatant troops in Africa under the auspices of the new U.S./Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Maduekwe said in Washington DC during an interview with journalists after the 47th Independence anniversary celebration held at the Nigerian Embassy.

According to the Minister, stationing U.S. combat troops on African soil is counter-productive, unnecessary and impinges on the sovereignty of states.

"If it is about the command is about stationing U.S. troops on African soil, we feel there is no need for that. We feel it will be a derogation of the sovereignty of African states to station foreign troops on African soil," Maduekwe said.

It is counter-productive, he said, because "we even believe that such stationing of combat troops in African soil at a time when Africa is not at war with anybody sends the wrong kind of message. It is counter productive even to U.S. interest. If there is one continent that is not hostile to the United States, by reason of its own understanding of its regional interest, it is Africa. We want to see the Command not in terms of U.S. military bases in Africa because there is no need for that."

Reminded that the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has already offered her country as a base for AFRICOM, the Minister said "we will not comment on Liberia's position because we need to read their statement and the context of what the Liberian government is saying because presence does not have to mean combat troops. It could mean exchange of information, it could mean training facilities. Even Nigeria has benefited from training facilities from the United States. If that is what the command is all about, there is nothing new about that."

Maduekwe disclosed that Nigeria was yet to receive a formal document which explains AFRICOM, even after it has been launched for more than three months. He said the communication concerning the command was inadequate.

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