African countries unite against Donald Trump slur, demand apology

US President Trump reportedly made the remarks at a White House meeting on immigration on Jan 11.
US President Trump reportedly made the remarks at a White House meeting on immigration on Jan 11.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) - All African countries at the United Nations unanimously demanded on Friday (Jan 12) that US President Donald Trump retract and apologise for his reported denunciation of immigration from “s***hole” nations.

After an emergency session to weigh Trump’s remarks, the African Group of UN ambassadors said it was “concerned at the continuing and growing trend from the US administration toward Africa and people of African descent to denigrate the continent and people of colour.”

The group is “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks by the president of the United States of America as widely reported by the media,” a statement added, demanding a “retraction and an apology.”

But the 54 countries also thanked those Americans “from all walks of life who have condemned the remarks.” The resolution was passed unanimously after four hours of discussions.

“For once, we are all on the same page,” an ambassador told AFP.

Trump’s comments were allegedly made on Thursday at a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform.

After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the president reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “s***hole countries,” rather than – for instance – wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.

He tweeted a convoluted denial on Friday in an attempt to quell outrage both at home and abroad.

Earlier, the 55-nation African Union condemned the remarks while Botswana and Senegal hauled in the US ambassador to complain.

The comment “truly flies in the face of accepted behavior and practice,” said Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU chief Moussa Faki.

Western Sahara is not recognised as a sovereign state by the UN and thus not included in its African Group.

It is, however, part of the African Union, which Morocco left in 1984 over the body’s recognition of the disputed territory’s independence, before rejoining it last year.

 
 
 

Trump, who has been accused of racism over several issues since he took office a year ago, sought to walk back the comments on Friday, saying on Twitter: "The language used by me at the Daca meeting was tough, but this was not the language used."

Trump also denied saying "anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country."

US Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the gathering, told reporters on Friday that Trump used "vile, vulgar" language, including repeatedly using the word "s***hole" when speaking about African countries.

The reported language was the latest in a long string of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments by Trump that have been condemned as racist. He also blamed "both sides" after a white supremacist rally in August in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent and a woman protesting against the rally was killed.