NIGERIA: Bush pledges to end regional wars
ABUJA, 12 Jul 2003 (IRIN) - United States President George Bush ended his five-day tour of Africa in Nigeria on Saturday with a pledge to help end regional wars and shore up democracy which he said was being threatened in the continent by "terrorism, chaos and civil war".
Bush, who arrived in Nigeria from Uganda on Friday night, began the day with a tour of the national hospital in the capital, Abuja, which runs a U.S-backed programme of anti-retroviral treatment for pregnant women with HIV/AIDS.
He later met with President Olusegun Obasanjo, which officials said they discussed regional security, particularly the situation in Liberia, and matters concerning the supply of oil and restiveness in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
President Bush later gave his major talk of the five-nation African tour at the opening of the Leon H. Sullivan (African-American) Summit.
He said his government would work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations to stabilize the situation in Liberia and bring peace to the war-ravaged country. He reiterated that President Charles Taylor needed to leave Liberia "to make this peace in the country possible."
But he did not give details on what the US would exactly do in Liberia, where it is widely expected that a US peacekeeping force would be sent in to support ECOWAS troops.
Apart from Liberia, Bush said, he was also committed to efforts to end regional wars in Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Ivory Coast. Bush said he was proposing a new initiative devoting US $100 million to help governments in East Africa fight terrorism, stressing that liberty in the continent required peace and security.
"We will not allow terrorists to threaten African peoples, or to use Africa as a base to threaten the world," Bush said.
But not all in Africa's most populous country of 120 million people, roughly half of whom are Muslims, received the visit well. In the mainly Muslim city of Kano in northern Nigeria, thousands of protesters marched through the streets after Friday prayers denouncing the visit.
They chanted "Death to America", "Death to Israel" and held aloft anti-American placards. A smaller protest earlier in the day was broken up by anti-riot police, but the bigger protest later in the day passed off peacefully with police keeping a distance without interfering.
Mohammed Turi, a Muslim scholar who led the protests, later addressed the crowd and accused Obasanjo of working with Bush for the re-colonisation of Africa. He said recent fuel price increases, which resulted in an eight-day general strike and widespread protests, were done to further the interests of the West.
"The visit of Bush to this country is to comment the effort of his puppet, Obasanjo, for torturing Nigerians," he said.
President Bush visited Senegal, South Africa, Botswana and Uganda.