US pledges new investment to support democracies

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UNITED NATIONS: The United States on Wednesday (Sep 20) announced US$225 million in investments to support emerging democracies in the face of a rise in autocracies around the world.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), were to announce the assistance at an event Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

A major part of the package will be US$110 million in private-sector projects for Nepal, where the political system has been stabilizing since a peace deal in 2006 ended a civil war claiming more than 17,000 lives.

The assistance to Nepal, secured by the US International Development Finance Corporation, which leads development efforts through private investors, will include support for small businesses and sustainable transportation in the Himalayan nation.

The assistance will also involve US$145 million in US government funding that features support for job creation as well as accountable public finances and other areas seen as key to democracy.

The package also includes grants, including from the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, that will support civil society groups, rural electricity and climate projects in countries that include Moldova, Tanzania and Zambia.

“The United States is dedicated to ensuring that democracy delivers for all,” USAID said in a statement.

The assistance aims to “deliver essential services and bring about tangible progress for citizens in countries experiencing democratic openings,” it said.

Blinken and Power launched the “Democracy Delivers” project last year as the Ukraine war raises alarm that democracies are under threat from authoritarian states such as Russia and China.

A number of nascent democracies have suffered major setbacks, with the military in Niger sacking the elected government in July and armed forces in 2021 pushing aside civilian leaders in Sudan, which has since plunged into war between dueling generals.

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