ADDIS ABABA. – The African Union (AU) yesterday expressed its “bewilderment” at US President Donald Trump’s inclusion of Chad on an updated and open-ended travel ban list issued at the weekend. In a statement, the AU said it had been “perplexed” by the presence of three African countries – Libya, Somalia and Sudan – on Trump’s original travel ban, and welcomed the removal of Sudan from the new list, issued Sunday.But, it criticised the “unjust” inclusion of Chad, a country with a long history of cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism. The AU statement “expressed bewilderment at the imposition of the unjust travel ban on the Republic of Chad, in particular, given its important role in the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin, Northern Mali, and the Sahel.”
Chadian forces, sometimes in close collaboration with the US military, play a leading role in fighting against Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists. Chad has suffered Islamist attacks and its capital, N’Djamena, hosts the five-country Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram. The new travel ban indefinitely blocks citizens of listed countries from entry to the US.
The AU statement further said: “While sharing the same concerns with the United States of America on the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, the African Union Commission is of the view that cooperation and meaningful engagement are vital in shaping a common response to this very demanding global challenge.”
“The free and legal movement of people is the foundation of a stronger and mutually enriching relationship between the African continent and the United States,” it added. The AU called for what it called “meaningful dialogue” between the parties ahead of an AU-US High Level meeting scheduled for November this year. On Sunday, Trump acknowledged Chad as “an important and valuable counter-terrorism partner” but added it “does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information” and warned that “several terrorist groups are active within Chad or in the surrounding region.”
The Chadian government also expressed shock at the move taken by the Trump administration and issued a statement that read: “The Chadian government expresses its lack of understanding of official reasons behind this decision. This move contrasts with Chad’s constant efforts and commitments in the fight against terrorism at the regional and global levels.
“The Chadian government calls for a better appreciation of the situation and invites President Donald Trump to reconsider this decision, which seriously undermines the image of Chad and good relations between both countries, particularly in the fight against terrorism.
“Chad remains available to any discussion in order to reinforce its collaboration with the United States of America on security and counter-terrorism issues. However, the government doesn’t want to be forced to use the principle of reciprocity, which could undermine interests of the two countries.” Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, alongside the three African countries, are subject to the new ban which takes effect on October 18. – AFP/Africa News/Herald Reporter.