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African Davos delegates plan Trump speech boycott

African delegates are planning to boycott United States President Donald Trump’s closing speech at the World Economic Forum’s flagship annual meeting in Davos on Friday. This follows leaks that he called many poor countries “shitholes” in a White House meeting on immigration this month.

Trump arrivesin Davos on Thursday where he will concentrate on boosting trade and business links between the US and other countries as part of his “America First” agenda, according to members of his cabinet who briefed the press. Trump will also meet Swiss President Alain Berset in Davos.

But he may not receive as warm a reception as he would like from other quarters.

Two-day visit

The US Presidentarrived in Davos shortly before noon on Thursday, having flown in by helicopter from Zurich International Airport. Trump will be making atwo-day visit to the World Economic Forum, where he will deliver a speech on Friday.

Business Leadership Africa CEO Bonang Mohale, a Davos attendee, penned an open letter before the WEF meeting, urging people to turn their backs on Trump when he arrives at WEF.

“The overt racism of these [shithole] statements is self-evident, and a stain on an office as august as yours,” he wrote. “Many of us will be boycotting your address to delegates at Davos in protest against your divisive comments and continued failure to unequivocally apologise. We encourage likeminded peers to do the same.”

Media have reported a growing number of African delegates who have expressed support for the letter and will themselves boycott Trump’s speech. But is also reported that Trump will meet with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, in his capacity of incoming chairman of the African Union.

Economic and environmental concerns

A host of NGOs have attacked Trump’s policies as he prepares for his Davos entrance.

“President Trump’s agenda is not putting America First – it is putting billionaires first. Trump was elected on a promise to fix the rigged economic and political system but his policies will further enrich corporations and the wealthy elite at the expense of the poorest in society,” wrote Oxfam International Director Winnie Byanyima in a press release on Wednesday.

Trump’s backtracking on environmental commitments of the previous US regime also prompted criticism from Christian Figueres, former United Nations climate chief and now a leading light at the environmental NGO Mission 2020.

“The situation in the US is quite lamentable,” Figueres told swissinfo.ch. “All of the incentives for US industry to decarbonise have now been lost. But we must differentiate between what the White House is saying and the real economy, which wants to decarbonise.”

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), said Trump’s nuclear policy appears to clear the way for “developing new types of nuclear weapons and lowering the bar for their use,” Fihn told swissinfo.ch. “This is a worrying situation.”