Navigating the American Elections: A Roundtable with African Ambassadors

On Monday, October 5, the Africa Center hosted a roundtable on the US elections for ambassadors and other chiefs of mission representing African countries in Washington. The discussion featured presentations by Lanny Davis, former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton, twelve-year veteran of the Democratic National Committee, and Executive Vice President of LEVICK, and the Honorable Connie Mack IV (R), former Republican Congressman and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Executive Vice President of LEVICK.

Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham gave a welcome and introduction, and noted that as the 2016 election campaigns ramp up, it is important for African ambassadors to think strategically about how to raise awareness of their concerns among both candidates and the general public. He observed that the majority of African issues in Congress have historically been bipartisan efforts, which bodes well for Ambassadors in Washington trying to engage in the process.

H.E. Michael Moussa-Adamo, Ambassador to the United States from the Gabonese Republic and Chair of the African Ambassadors Group, noted the importance of the roundtable, and highlighted the need for African ambassadors in Washington to amplify their political clout and visibility in policy discussions affecting Africa as a whole and their individual countries.

Davis began by discussing the importance of being able to work “across the aisle” with both Democrats and Republicans, highlighting the difference between being friendly and agreeing on political issues; he underscored the importance of working in a bipartisan fashion on issues of mutual interest. Mack suggested that Ambassadors take advantage of the often-large diasporas living in the United States to engage with the US political process on important issues.