Obama sees a hopeful democratic Senegal

2013-06-27 07:59
US President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia make their way to board Marine One.

US President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia make their way to board Marine One. (Mandel Ngan, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dakar - The hopeful story President Barack Obama wants to tell about Africa is represented in the first stop of his weeklong trip to re-engage the continent, in a country where democracy recently overcame an impending electoral crisis.

During his visit to Senegal on Thursday, Obama also will reflect on the ties many African-Americans share with the continent as he takes a tour of Goree Island, Africa's westernmost point. By some accounts, millions of Africans were shipped off into slavery across the Atlantic Ocean through the island's "Door of No Return".

It's the first of two island visits Obama planned to highlight racial atrocities of the past. The second was scheduled for Sunday at South Africa's Robben Island, where anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

But Mandela's condition could affect Obama's plans. The former South African president is gravely ill, and Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes said it would be left to the Mandela family to decide whether he is up for a visit from Obama this weekend.

Mandela's legacy hangs over the entire trip, with Senegal among many African countries that have benefited from his example of a peaceful transition to power. "So much of the democratic progress that we see across the continent I think can be tied in some way to the inspiration that Nelson Mandela set," Rhodes said.

Obama's focus in Senegal will be on the modern-day achievements of the former French colony after half a century of independence.

Democratic transition

He planned to meet with Senegalese President Macky Sall, who ousted an incumbent president who attempted to change the constitution to make it easier for him to be re-elected and pave the way for his son to succeed him. The power grab sparked protests, fuelled by hip-hop music and social media, that led to Sall's election.

But such people-powered democratic transitions are not always the story of the African experience. Fighting and human rights abuses limited Obama's options for stops in his first major tour of sub-Saharan Africa since he took office more than four years ago. Obama is avoiding his father's homeland, Kenya, whose president has been charged with war crimes, and Nigeria, the country with the continent's most dominant economy. Nigeria is enveloped in an Islamist insurgency and military crackdown.

Obama's itinerary in Senegal was designed to send a message, purposefully delivered in a French-speaking, Muslim-majority nation, to other Africans in countries that have not made the strides toward democracy that Senegal has. Obama plans to meet with civil society leaders at the Goree Institute and visit the Supreme Court to speak about the importance of an independent judiciary and the rule of law in Africa's development.

"It's not enough to have elections, it's not enough to have democratically elected leaders," Rhodes said.

"You need to have independent judiciaries. You need to have confidence in the rule of law. You need to have efforts to combat corruption. Because, frankly, not only is that good for democracy and respect for human rights, but it's critical to Africa's economic growth, because where you have clear rules of the road and efforts to combat corruption, businesses will invest, and jobs will be created and growth will take off. And that's what we want to see."

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  macky sall  |  barack obama  |  nigeria  |  kenya  |  sa  |  senegal  |  us  |  africa  |  obama in africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.