In brief | Nation & World | 5-4-14


Kerry: US ready to help, but African nations need to take steps to ensure democracy, security

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — America’s top diplomat said Saturday the U.S. is ready to help increase its ties with Africa, but nations across the continent need to take stronger steps to ensure security and democracy for its people.

In an Africa policy address to members of the Addis Ababa diplomatic corps and the Young Africa leader network, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted crises in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and the Central African Republic and urged Africans to demand stability and financial development.

He called for an expansion of American investment in Africa and noted that U.S. companies IBM, Microsoft and Google already have spent more than $100 million on projects across the continent.

“So this is clearly a moment of opportunity for all Africans,” Kerry told about 100 Ethiopians at an environmentally friendly auditorium on a mountaintop. “It is also a moment of decision.”

The Obama administration has sought to expand U.S. private investments in Africa, and last year financed about $1 billion to support American businesses across the continent, including an estimated $650 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Condoleezza Rice backs out of delivering commencement address after student protests

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has backed out of delivering the commencement address at Rutgers University following protests by some faculty and students over her role in the Iraq War.

Rice said in a statement Saturday that she informed Rutgers President Robert Barchi that she was declining the invitation to speak at the graduation.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

The school’s board of governors had voted to pay $35,000 to the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush and national security adviser for her appearance at the May 18 ceremony. Rutgers was also planning to bestow Rice with an honorary doctorate.

But some students and faculty at New Jersey’s flagship university had protested, staging sit-ins and saying Rice bore some responsibility for the Iraq War as a member of the Bush administration. Barchi and other school leaders had resisted the calls to disinvite Rice, saying the university welcomes open discourse on controversial topics.

3 people killed, 7 wounded in 2 blasts along Kenyan coast

NAIROBI, Kenya — At least three people were killed in a grenade blast in one of two explosions Saturday along the coast of Kenya, an east African country working to crack down on a recent wave of terrorist attacks.

Authorities said the grenade blast at a bus stop in Mwembe Tayari, in the coastal city of Mombasa, also injured seven other people. Separately, a bag with an improvised explosive device was spotted near the coastal Reef Hotel in Nyali, and passersby noticed in time to take cover before it detonated, the Interior Ministry said. No fatalities were immediately reported there.

Ranjit Sondhi, a director at the hotel, told The Associated Press that the hotel was not damaged and the blast occurred on a nearby public beach — much of the impact absorbed by a wall. The Interior Ministry had initially said that the explosion had taken place at a gate at the hotel, but ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka later clarified that it had actually happened on the beach.

Kenya has been hit by a wave of gun and explosive attacks since it sent troops to neighboring Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants in 2011. The Al-Qaida-linked militants have vowed to carry out terrorist attacks on Kenyan soil to avenge the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia. Since last month, Kenya has been conducting a security operation in response to the recent wave of terror attacks.

By wire sources