Reagan policy in Africa arouses OAU hostility

Criticism of United States policy in Africa has run like a persistent thread through the private conversations, interviews, statements, and formal resolutions of the Organization of African Unity meeting here in the Kenya capital.

The foreign ministers' meeting, which ends here today will be followed by the three- day OAU summit starting June 24.

As significant as the universal hostility itself is the fact that it is based almost entirely upon reactions to American policy in southern Africa. Every person interviewed, in answer to an initial question on the state of African- American relations, framed the response in relation to South Africa and Namibia.

Only on further probing did delegates refer to other issues, such as the US repudiation of agreement reached in eight years of meetings on the Law of the Sea, and the North-South dialogue.

According to B. Akporode Clark, Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations and chairman of the United Nations Committee Against Apartheid, bad feelings against the US were evident in all deliberations of the OAU.

"These attitudes result from American actions. It is inexplicable that the US should declare South Africa to be a natural ally and to move from there to prevent implementation of the UN plan for Namibia," he said.

Mozambican Foreign Minister Joaquin Chissano said in an interview that while he might be prejudiced because bilateral feelings were not good, he considered that African-American relations would depend on American policies in southern Africa.

"As long as the United States looks at Africa through the microscope of East-West conflict, there is little chance of good relations," he said.

The Sierra Leonean foreign minister, Abdulai Conteh, compared the Reagan administration policies unfavorably with those of its predecessor. He said in an interview: "Some certainty emerged during the Carter administration vis-a-vis Namibia and the whole of southern Africa. Now there is considerable doubt on the current administration's position on these issues.

"There had been some meeting of minds in these areas. Now we do not know what the Americans are thinking."

On further questioning, the minister suggested that the US seemed to be putting" the clock back" with regard to a whole range of issues within the framework of the North- South dialogue.

The strongest criticism of the US came from southern African liberation movements. Speaking on behalf of all such groups at the opening session of the conference, Henry Isaacs of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (South Africa) said that US introduction of cold war politics into southern Africa would cloud the issues involved in the liberation struggles and threatened to remove from the hands of the oppressed peoples the right to determine their own future.

The tone of such statements was reflected in a resolution which has made its way from the liberation committee to the council and is likely to be approved without substantial amendment by the summit. It condemns the United States for "obstructing and criticizes "the overt and convert collusion of the US and its Western allies with South African racists."

Despite strong criticism of the US it would be wrong to convey the impression that the meeting is preoccupied with "hating America." President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya in his openin g address did not once mention the United States.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.