Bases in Africa not meant to exert US influence: Bush

February 20th, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by admin  

Nairobi/Accra, Feb 20 (DPA) US President George W. Bush strode into Ghana Wednesday for the fourth leg of his Africa tour, saying the US did not intend to place military bases on the continent to exert its influence. Many African nations have expressed reservations about the installation of a base somewhere on the continent, fearing the US might flex its military muscle without approval from the host country.

“I know there’s rumours in Ghana - all Bush is coming to do is try to convince you to put a big military base here. That’s baloney. As they say in Texas, that’s bull,” Bush told reporters in the capital Accra, beside Ghanaian President John Kufuor.

The US says Africa Command, known as Africom, intends to fight the so-called “war on terror” on the continent, with international terrorist networks known to be operating in Somalia and in Sahelian countries, among others.

Two US embassies were bombed almost simultaneously in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, killing more than 200 people.

Bush heads to Liberia for the final leg of his trip Thursday. The country, colonized by freed US slaves in the 19th century, was the only one willing to open its doors to an Africom base.

With no takers to the Africom idea, it is likely to remain in Germany, where the US has had a base since World War Two.

Ghana is lauded as a shining example of peace and democracy on a troubled continent, with a growing economy based largely on its gold and cocoa exports.

Bush’s five-nation, six-day Africa tour has been criticized for avoiding the volatile flashpoints on the continent, like Sudan, Congo and now Kenya, which is locked in a violent political standoff.

Nonetheless, Bush has been greeted by cheering crowds in the places he has visited, where his approval rating seems nowhere near as low as the one he has at home.

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