Blair’s farewell to Africa

Tony Blair is embarking on a farewell tour to Africa, taking in Libya, Sierra Leone, and South Africa in an effort to publicise a new world trade deal.

In the last ten years the prime minister has devoted more of Britain’s energies to Africa than at any time since the empire, and as his premiership enters its final days he has headed out on a farewell visit to the continent.

And in his last major foreign tour, the Labour leader is focusing on some of the major foreign policy success stories of his reign.

The visit comes ahead of the G8 summit in Germany running from June 6th to 8th, where a global free trade agreement is expected to be high on the agenda.

Mr Blair is set to meet Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi in the first leg of his African tour, highlighting one of the biggest foreign affairs successes of the prime minister’s time in office – when the UK and US secured a deal for Libya to discontinue its nuclear weapons programmes in 2003.

From there he will head to Sierra Leone – where Britain sent troops in 2000, helping to end an 11-year long civil war. If he is unpopular at home, Mr Blair’s personal rating is still high in the African state.

The prime minister is set to fly to South Africa for the final stage of his tour. There he will talk to president Thabo Mbeki, where he is expected to call for more action on Zimbabwe.

Mr Blair is set to make a major speech on policy in Africa at this stage, with climate change, trade, and Darfur set to feature.

On Friday the Prime Minister described the situation in Darfur as “very serious” and promised to raise the matter at the United Nations.

“We will push for a very tough UN resolution if [the Sudanese government] don’t listen to the appeal issued by the UN secretary general and act upon it immediately,” he said in a message on the Downing Street YouTube channel.