NAIROBI. — The first official visit to Africa by Rex Tillerson as top US diplomat ended unexpectedly with him being fired by US President Donald Trump, leaving Africa perplexed and dubious of the sincerity of US diplomacy.
As African countries are still not over Trump’s alleged “sh**hole” remarks against them, Tillerson’s visit to five African nations including Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria last week was seen as a gesture to mend US-Africa ties.
Tillerson had wanted to use the visit to deepen the United States’ partnerships in Africa in areas including counter-terrorism, peace and security as well as trade and investment; however, this has become even more uncertain with his sacking. Kenya-based newspaper The Standard on Wednesday described Tillerson’s firing as a “dramatic” end to his 14-month tenure in a report that also pointed out the unusualness of Tillerson’s visit to Africa because he had suspended his itinerary due to “illness” while in Kenya and cut short his trip in Africa because of other more urgent work. John Campbell, an Africa scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, told a US media outlet that Trump’s sacking of the top US diplomat could be interpreted as “another example of the administration disrespecting Africa.”
“I don’t know how the Africans are going to take that,” Campbell was quoted as saying.
“Tillerson ouster troubling on many fronts,” Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, wrote in a Twitter post Tuesday. “Rude, disrespectful treatment of a loyal supporter, dumping him while representing America abroad, during his trip to Africa.”
According to long-time Africa and international relations researchers in China, Africa has been marginalised in the Trump administration’s foreign policy, and the situation will likely remain so during his time in office. — Xinhua