Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, returned today from a week-long visit to Niger, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Burkina Faso. Booker was joined on the bipartisan congressional trip by Senators Christopher Coons (D-DE), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI).
The Senators met with U.S. diplomats, USAID workers, and military officials from the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
In Niger, Booker received a briefing on the ambush of U.S. special forces in Tongo Tongoby Al Qaeda affiliates in October of 2017. Booker also met with U.S. Embassy personnel, visited a USAID solar energy project site, met with local religious and civil society leaders on security concerns and met with representatives of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The visit to Niger concluded with a meeting between Booker, his colleagues and President Mahamadou Issoufou, where they discussed U.S- Niger security cooperation and humanitarian assistance.
During the trip to South Africa, Booker met with U.S. Embassy staff, South African government officials, local NGO’s and members of South Africa’s highest court, the Constitution Court.
While in Zimbabwe, Booker met with members of the political opposition, Zimbabwean government officials including President Mnangagwa, Vice President Chiwenga, and Foreign Minister Moyo, and local civil society groups ahead of the country’s upcoming summer elections. In a meeting with President Mnangagwa, Booker and his colleagues discussed Zimbabwe’s historic transition and urged the leaders to pursue economic, political, and social reforms in order to normalize relations between the United States and Zimbabwe. Booker and his colleagues stressed their support of inclusive and credible elections this summer.
In Burkina Faso, Booker received a classified briefing from U.S. Embassy staff and participated in a review with Burkina Faso government officials of U.S. military assistance and its impacts on the country’s efforts to fight terrorism. In the meeting with President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Booker and his colleagues discussed U.S. support for the G5 Sahel Force, and the importance of balancing security and development assistance.
“The United States has some of our best military personnel, diplomats, and aid workers serving on the frontlines in Africa. My past week in Niger, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso has been an eye-opening testament to the vital economic, political and security assistance partnership between the U.S. and African countries. In each of our meetings this week, we reaffirmed the value we place on U.S.-African relations and the dire need for a fully-staffed, empowered U.S. diplomatic corps committed to working to advance fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, and democratic transparency and accountability.”
Booker continued, “But the actions of President Trump and his administration have undermined American diplomatic leadership in the world, especially in Africa. The Senate has a critical role to play in undoing the damage done by President Trump’s disparaging comments and the former Secretary of State’s hiring freezes and budget cuts. I am committed to the urgent task of rebuilding our development and diplomatic corps as well as re-examining the legal authorizations under which our men and women in uniform serve on the frontlines across the African continent.”