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German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving at the national palace, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Merkel Stakes Out Germany’s Position as a Democracy Advocate in Africa

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Africa last week, traveling to Mali, Niger and Ethiopia. Issues of security dominated her visit to Mali, while migration was central to her trip to Niger. In Ethiopia, Merkel focused on security dialogue with the African Union, but her expression of support for greater democratization in the country was equally important. Merkel was notably blunter about Ethiopia’s authoritarianism than U.S. President Barack Obama and American diplomats, suggesting Germany’s potential as a mediator and advocate for political rights on the continent.

Historically, Germany has not had nearly the same interest in Africa as France, Britain and the United States. It had several colonies in Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but lost them after its defeat in World War I. In more recent times, Germany’s role has been primarily related to development and humanitarian issues. Germany usually does not make the list when observers discuss emerging foreign players in Africa, such as China, Turkey, Russia and Iran. ...

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