U.S. seeks stronger partners in Africa

By Bradley Klapper

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 16 2012 9:55 p.m. MST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is welcomed to Abidjan by Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, centre and the U.S. Ambassador Phillip Carter III after arriving on her jet, Monday Jan. 16, 2012.

Associated Press

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — After an intense year of diplomacy sparked by revolution and repression across the Arab world, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is taking stock this week of an entirely separate democratic advance a half-continent away in West Africa.

The region's improvements in multiparty governance and the rule of law may have been overshadowed by the tumult of the Arab Spring. It made its own democratic gains in the past two years, even if the progress came in fits and starts, and often on the back of political violence.

In Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won a second term in an election that likely would have been declared free and fair, only to be marred when the opposition leader called for a boycott, allowing her to run unopposed.

"We are committed to standing with the people of Liberia as they continue their important journey, reconciling political and ethnic differences, strengthening democracy and bringing prosperity and opportunity to people," Clinton said Monday after watching Sirleaf get sworn in for a new six-year term.

Clinton meets Tuesday with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and with the reform-minded President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo.

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