Mr Joseph Wilson is the new policy adviser on Africa in the White House. He is Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. A former Ambassador to Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, Mr Wilson has also served at embassies in Burundi, Niger, Togo and South Africa. MARIE CHRISTINE-BONZOM interviewed him for African Business.
African Business : Do you still view Mr Laurent Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as a democrat?
Joseph Wilson: Governing the DRC is obviously not easy. US Ambassador Richardson's mission in Kinshasa was successful in the sense that he brought the UN and Mr Kabila closer. Our policy is to help build a future for Congo and the Congolese people, a future brighter than the past. In that perspective, we contributed $10m in a WHO immunisation programme.
AB: The Clinton administration has chosen to give the benefit of the doubt to Mr Kabila. Is there a risk of the US ending up grooming a new dictator?
JW: Given 30 years of Mr Mobutu's dictatorship and 10 years of lack of control inland, the risk lies rather in doing nothing. And that risk would mostly be a threat to the 48m citizens of DRC. Our intention is to react positively to the effort of that society to reconcile itself and rebuild.
AB: The Rwandese leadership has played a major role in Mr Kabila's rise. Some People in the Pentagon and at the American Embassy in Kigali describe Mr Paul Kegame as a 'visionary'. Where is the basis of this admiration?
JW: Well, (pause)[ldots] I don't know where you've heard that but what is certain is that Rwanda faced a very difficult challenge. The 1994 genocide could not leave us indifferent. After such a brutal experience, we should admire a government that was able to put a country like Rwanda back on track. All problems have not been solved but people forget that peace has been restored, hundreds of thousands of refugees have been repatriated in a peaceful way. So, we have to recognise that the Rwandan government has succeeded in managing the difficult situation it inherited,
AB: Angolan troops were recently involved in Congo-Brazzaville. Is the Clinton administration concerned about this trend of interventionism?
JW: Yes, we are concerned about it. We are even more concerned about what happened in Congo-Brazzaville, that is to say the toppling of a democratically elected government by a militia leader.
AB: Is there going to be...