ALN President, Dr Lamine Bâ, has written an article for Prospect Magazine clarifying his work in Haiti in his capacity as Minister for Humanitarian Cooperation and International Affairs in the Senegalese Government:
Prospect – Haiti: Africa Calling
After January’s catastrophic earthquake it seems that there is still no end to the tragedy facing the people of Haiti. This month an outbreak of cholera has left hundreds dead and thousands more hospitalised—and yesterday violence broke out in reaction to the spread of the disease, with protestors claiming that Nepalese soldiers brought the epidemic to Haiti. In the face of such horror, it is hardly surprising that many Haitians are seeking to rebuild their lives in new countries.
Earlier this year, the President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, unveiled an initiative to resettle hundreds of Haitians in his country. (This is in addition to over $1m in direct aid to Haiti from the government of Senegal). Why, ask some, when Senegal is itself far from the richest country in the world, should Africans pay to support others? The needs of Africa are plain for all to see. Yet the government in which I serve, a liberal government, is part of a growing political movement across Africa that rejects the notion that Africa must always take aid, and never provide it.
When our fellow citizens in other parts of the world are suffering—particularly those to whom we have a historic connection—we believe it is our duty to support them within the means and resources that are available to us. In fact, it is our liberal commitment to internationalism and humanitarianism that demand it.
Last week I addressed the Africa Liberal Network General Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, the organisation that is helping to spearhead this growing political movement across Africa. The ALN is a collection of 30 Liberal parties from 25 African countries, united in their commitment to win power on liberal political platforms and, when in power, provide government based on enduring liberal principles such as the freedom and dignity of all people, the rule of law, free and fair elections with peaceful transition, fighting corruption, and establishing free market economies.
This movement is enjoying increasing electoral success. My own Democratic Party in Senegal first won power in 2000 after decades of socialist rule; and the Democratic Alliance in South Africa has moved from 1.7 per cent of the vote in 1994 to touching 20 per cent in last year’s general election, and now controls the government of Western Cape. Just this month in Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, a former deputy general director of the IMF, powered into the run-off in the presidential election, trailing the incumbent president (who has failed to hold an election for many years) by only a few percentage points. Elsewhere, in Morocco, Zanzibar and the Democratic Republic of Congo, liberals form part of coalition governments.
Also this year, the ALN has been outspoken regarding the electoral malpractice and arrest and intimidation of opposition candidates in this years’ elections in Burundi. The network has worked hard to facilitate the increasing of representation of women in politics across Africa. Member parties have unanimously condemned the failure of the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, to abide by the agreements outlined in his government of national unity, and against the wishes of his people.
In this context, it is easier to understand the government of Senegal’s actions for the citizens of Haiti. Just as other great liberal parties and governments across the world have been committed to supporting human rights and dignity—from successive liberal governments in Canada, to the Clinton administration in the US and President Clinton’s continuing humanitarian activities through his foundation on leaving office—it is the duty of liberals all over the world—including in Africa—to provide support and assistance to those in greatest need. It is in this spirit that the people of Haiti hear Africa calling them.
Dr Lamine Ba is the Minister for International Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs for the Government of Senegal. He is also President of the Africa Liberal Network