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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 21st September 2017

Trump takes on the UN

Blue Lines

Some African leaders in the United Nations General Assembly on 19 September listening to United States President Donald Trump's planned remedies for rogue states seemed to breathe a sigh of relief at his lack of interest in their continent. The following day, during discussions chaired by Ethiopia, which presides over the UN Security Council this month, African officials saw in more detail what planned US budget cuts are likely to do to UN operations on their continent.

President Trump's enthusiasm for the military and US projection of power doesn't extend to financing or participating in UN peacekeeping operations. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is pushing for swingeing cuts – of up to 10% – to UN missions in Congo-Kinshasa and Sudan. Trump wants to limit the US share of the UN's US$7.3 billion peacekeeping budget to 25%. It is currently 28.5% and the US is easily the biggest contributor.

UN operations in Congo-K are to be cut by about $90 million by economising on staffing and travel. This comes at a time when the country could be on the brink of political implosion as opposition mounts to Joseph Kabila's attempts to extend his presidency, against the terms of the constitution. Other missions in the frame for cuts are those in Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan. Washington evidently wants Franceto lead in the two francophone states, and for Britain to take on a stronger role in Juba.