ACCRA, Ghana – President George W. Bush said Wednesday that the United States is not trying to expand its military influence in Africa by building new military bases on the continent.
The U.S. Defense Department created United States Africa Command last October to consolidate operations that had been split among three other regional commands, none of which had Africa as a primary focus.
Several African countries, including Libya, Nigeria and South Africa, have expressed deep reservations about the command, claiming it could signal an unwanted expansion of American military influence or turn Africa into another battleground in the global war on terror groups.
"I know that there's a controversial subject brewing around that's not very well understand and that's why would America stand up what's called AFRICOM," Bush said.
He said AFRICOM is a unique military command aimed at helping provide military assistance to African nations so that they can address conflicts on the continent, such as peacekeeping training.
"We do not contemplate adding new bases," Bush said. "In other words, the purpose of this is not to add military bases. I know there's rumors in Ghana 'All bush is coming to do is try to convince you to put a big military base here.' That's baloney. As they say in Texas, that's bull."