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Africa calls Trump racist after “shithole” remark


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JOHANNESBURG/LUSAKA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - African politicians and diplomats labelled U.S. President Donald Trump a racist on Friday after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole” countries.

Sources told Reuters on Thursday that Trump had questioned why the United States would want immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti and some African countries during a briefing on draft immigration legislation.

Trump denied on Friday using such derogatory language, but he had already been widely condemned in many African countries and by international rights organisations.

“Ours is not a shithole country and neither is Haiti or any other country in distress,” Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress told reporters at a news conference in East London.

“We would not deign to make comments as derogatory as that about any country that has any kind of socio-economic or other difficulties,” Duarte said, adding that much like their African counterparts, millions of U.S. citizens were affected by problems such as unemployment.

Botswana’s foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador in protest and called the comments “highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.”

It said in a statement that it had asked the U.S. government, through its ambassador, to “clarify” if the derogatory remark also applied to Botswana given that there were Botswana nationals living in the United States and others who wished to go there.

The African Union (AU), an organisation which promotes cooperation on the continent, said it was alarmed by Trump’s “very racist” comments.

“Given the historical reality of how African Americans arrived in the United States as slaves, and the United States being the biggest example of how a nation has been built by migration - for a statement like that to come is particularly upsetting,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.

Trump reportedly also suggested that America should instead welcome people from countries such as Norway, an invitation a number of Norwegians rejected on Friday.

The Nordic country, one of the richest in the world by GDP per capita, was last year named the happiest nation on the planet by a U.N. body, and is known for a cradle-to-grave welfare state.

“On behalf of Norway: Thanks, but no thanks,” tweeted Torbjoern Saetre, a politician representing Norway’s Conservative Party in a municipality near Oslo.


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