Prominent African American civil society leader and founder of Constituency For Africa, Melvin Foote is currently leading efforts, pressing the Biden administration towards stronger engagement with Africa following strained relations between the continent and Trump’s Administration.
Speaking in an interview with Alkamba Times from Washington DC in the wake of the military takeover in Guinea, Mr. Foote said: ‘The Biden/Harris Administration is in the process of formulating it’s Africa Policy that will be managed by the Office of Vice President, Kamala Harris. CFA is already scheduled to meet with the Vice Presidents Director for Africa, Jessica Davis Ba, on September 16th as part of it’s annual conference.
Mr Foote said his organization will be briefed on the Administration plan, and they will offer recommendations and suggestions for an effective and more responsive U.S. Policy Towards Africa.
‘The main thing we will press for is stronger engagement with Africa, and a more prominent role for the African Diaspora.’ Foote assured Alkamba Times. Also reacting to the military Coup in Guinea, the veteran civil society leader added: ‘I can’t say that I’m surprised. ‘When Alpha Conde decided to change the constitution allowing him to run for a third term, it was clear, this was going to meet resistance from large segments of the Guinea public. It was also surprising given his age of 83. Why in the world would he even want to remain president, when he could leave office favorably, travel, speak at different venues, write books, and not be under the pressure of running a country.
The majority of Guineans live in extreme poverty in a country of diverse natural resources and mineral deposits.
Amid massive riches and natural resources, Mr Foote fears the trappings of a corrupt few who benefitted vastly from the country’s national wealth at the expense of the citizenry, sanctioned the constitutional takeover and kept Conde in power.
‘I suspect that some of the people close to him, who benefitted from his Presidency, insisted that he remain in office. I also think that the rise of Donald Trump as the US President, signaled to authoritarian regimes, they they can buck democratic principles and abandon constitutions.’ Mr Foote added referencing Uganda, The Republic of Congo, Cameroon and other countries around the world.
‘Some might argue that usurping the constitution like Alpha Conde did, was also a coup of sorts!’ The civil society leader now focused on building stronger cooperation between US and Africa, is not sure what can be done to avert military coups, other than to press for good governance. ‘I think that most countries in Africa are now predominately young people, under 30 years of age. They need jobs, education, training and opportunities, which if not addressed, can certainly establish conditions for radical change of government. I fully expect more coups in Africa in the near term,’ He told Alkamba Times.
Over the past twenty-four years, Mr. Foote’s CFA has established itself as one of the leading organizations in the United States committed to educating and mobilizing the U.S public on matters pertaining to Africa and the African Diaspora. As a result, CFA has done much to increase the level of cooperation and coordination among a broad-based coalition of international organizations, businesses and individuals committed to the progress, development, and empowerment of Africa and African people.