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Jonathan's trip disrupts Clinton's African tour

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 03, 2012    

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NIGERIAN President Goodluck Jonathan's visit to Jamaica has impacted plans for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's current African tour, which started July 31.

Clinton was scheduled to visit the Nigerian capital, Abuja, yesterday to discuss issues such as Boko Haram, including pressures from the US Congress and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to declare the Jihadists based in northeastern Nigeria a terrorist organisation.

It is not clear how seriously Jonathan's absence has affected Clinton's itinerary. However, the secretary of state's trip will last until August 10, and it is anticipated that a new date can be arranged for her visit to Nigeria.

Jamaica Observer sources said Jonathan was aware of Clinton's visit but had insisted on fulfilling his commitment to the Governments of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to visit both countries this week.

US State Department sources have confirmed that with him returning home this weekend, there would be enough time to arrange a new date convenient to both leaders.

Boko Haram, whose name in the Hausa language translates as "western education is sinful", is divided into three factions. In 2011 they were reportedly responsible for at least 450 killings in Nigeria. It was also reported that they had been responsible for more than 620 deaths over the first six months of 2012.

The group became known internationally following sectarian violence in Nigeria in July 2009, which left more than 1,000 people dead.

Clinton last visited Nigeria in 2009 to discuss America's concerns about sectarian violence and disruptions of oil production in the Niger Delta.

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