8 November 2012

Africa Expects Better Obama Disappoints Africa in First Term

Photo: Scout Tufankjian/Obama for America
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney at the second presidential debate.

PRIME Minister Nahas Angula yesterday lashed out at the re-elected president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, saying “he should respect Africa”.

According to Angula, Obama did not show any respect for the African continent during his first term of office. “He pushed for the killing of the Libyan president [Muammar Gaddafi]. That's not acceptable.”

The Prime Minister said: “We want the peaceful resolution of African issues. I hope he does something better in terms of respecting Africa in his second term.”

He was said on a local radio station yesterday morning that he hopes Obama does not “embarrass” Africa again.

Graham Hopwood, a political analyst, also said that Obama “didn't do much for Africa” during his first term. “It's possible that in his second term, he'll be more flexible and include Africa in policy in a positive way.”

It is possible that Obama did not want to reach out to Africa too obviously because of his Kenyan roots, Hopwood said.

The commentator said he was not surprised that Obama won the election. “He was always slightly ahead in opinion polls.”

Also, people may have realised that he inherited the economic situation in his country, Hopwood said. “It was not his direct fault, so people were more forgiving.”

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that many Africans were disappointed in Obama.

Many in Africa feel their enthusiasm for Obama was not requited by him in terms of increased US commitment and fresh concrete initiatives on the world's poorest continent, a deficit they see being filled by other emerging players such as China, Brazil, India and South Korea, it was reported.

Furthermorsub-Saharan Africa has gone virtually unnoticed as a topic in the US presidential election campaign, which focused heavily on pressing domestic issues such as the lack of jobs and how to prod America's stuttering economy into faster growth.

But analysts see a strong counter-terrorism focus increasingly driving US policy towards Africa, as Washington throws its weight behind efforts on the continent to confront the spreading presence there of al Qaeda and its Islamic jihadist allies in hotspots from Somalia to Mali and Nigeria, Reuters reported.

“These concerns don't recognise borders,” Mark Schroeder, director of Sub-Saharan Africa analysis at Stratfor Global Intelligence, told Reuters.

The acting Permanent Secretary in the Namibian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Michael Ndivayele, yesterday said that Namibia has had cordial relations with the USA. “I presume that will continue.”

He said Obama could not do much for other continents, including Africa, during his first term. “He came into power during the global economic crisis and he was more concerned with recovering the internal economic problems than with the outside world.”

Namibia congratulated Obama, Ndivayele said.

Gareth Rees, the acting South African High Commissioner, said that president Jacob Zuma issued a statement congratulating Obama.

According to Rees, Zuma said that South Africa values its relations with the USA and look forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation in years to come.

Zuma reiterated that the USA has an important, positive role to play in Africa's development, Rees said.

A senior official at the Zimbabwe High Commission yesterday said that they were “quite, quite happy” that Obama had been re-elected.

Andre Scholz, the spokesperson of the German embassy, said: “We congratulate the USA and its people for having re-elected the president in a fair, free and transparent election that shows that the USA is a strong democracy.”

He added: “We wish the re-elected president all the best to continue its policy to the benefit of the people of the USA and for the promotion of peace in the world.”

During his victory speech, Obama said that Americans “want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known, but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.”

Difficult compromises are needed to move the country forward, he agreed. “Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line.”

Every American who is prepared to try has a place in the country, he said. “It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight.”

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