No AFRICOM bases in Africa, says Bush

Feb 21, 2008
Author: P&S

Accra, Ghana, 20 February 2008 – The United States does not seek military bases in Africa and is not a fierce competitor with China on the African continent, President George W Bush said yesterday (20 February) in Accra, Ghana, during a joint news conference with Ghana's President John Kufuor.

The purpose of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is to help leaders provide African solutions for African problems, Bush said.

“I know there's a controversial subject brewing around that’s not very well understood, and that’s: ‘Why would America stand up what’s called AFRICOM?’” Bush told reporters during his five-nation visit to Africa.

“First,” Bush said, “this is a unique command structure for America. It is a command structure that is aiming to help provide military assistance to African nations, so African nations are more capable of dealing with Africa's conflicts - like peacekeeping training. Obviously, we've got an issue in Darfur that we've got to all work together to solve. And I’m very pleased that the AU and UN hybrid force should be moving in there. I’d like to see it moving quicker, but the whole purpose of AFRICOM is to help leaders deal with African problems.”

Bush also stressed that the United States does not seek bases in Africa but may eventually seek administrative offices.

“Secondly,” Bush said, “we do not contemplate adding new bases. In other words, the purpose of this is not to add military bases. I know there’s rumours in Ghana, ‘All Bush is coming to do is try to convince you to put a big military base here.’ That's baloney. (Laughter.) Or as we say in Texas, that’s bull. (Laughter.) Mr. President (Kufuor) made it clear to me, he said, look, we – you’re not going to build in any bases in Ghana. I said, I understand; nor do we want to. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t develop some kind of office somewhere in Africa. We haven’t made our minds up. This is a new concept.”

Bush also said the United States does not intend to compete with China in Africa.

“I don’t view Africa as zero-sum for China and the United States,” Bush said. “I mean, I think we can pursue agendas that - without creating a great sense of competition. I mean, inherent in your question is that I view China as a fierce competitor on the continent of Africa - no, I don’t.”

You can read the full transcript of Pres Bush’s question and answer session with Pres John Kufuor CLICK HERE



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