The United States will continue to support “civilian-led” armies in Africa, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in Luanda on Wednesday, September 27, blaming militaries on the continent for “subverting the will of the people” through coups d’état.
“When generals subvert the will of the people and put their own ambitions above the rule of law, the security situation deteriorates, and democracy dies,” said Mr. Austin in a speech on U.S. security partnerships in Africa, delivered in the Angolan capital.
The Defense Secretary reiterated the US commitment to “support government policies that advance peace, security, and democratic governance together”, stressing that these “elements are inseparable”.
“Africa needs armies that serve its citizens, not the other way around”, he added.
Mr. Austin’s visit to Angola, a first for an American Secretary of Defense, is the third and final stop on his African tour, following Djibouti and Kenya.
While in Nairobi on Monday, the Secretary of Defense indicated that the United States was evaluating various options concerning the future of its military presence in Niger, the day after France announced the withdrawal of its troops. The United States has some 1,100 troops stationed in Niger, engaged against jihadist groups active in the region.
Niger is one of six African countries where the military has taken power by force in the last three years, along with Gabon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan, and Guinea.