Obama on Africa: Is He Sending Mixed Signals?Posted: July 10, 2009
In today’s British Independent, Eric Kabendera suggests as much:
The initial signs from the Obama presidency were far from encouraging as far as promoting good governance was concerned. The first of the continent’s leaders to be granted an Oval Office meeting with the new black occupant of the White House, was my own president: Jakaya Kikwete, of Tanzania.
He had just finished his stint as the rotating head of the African Union, so it might have been a matter of diplomatic protocol, but it was a disappointing choice nonetheless. While at the AU helm, President Kikwete was far from impressive. He stuck to the Africa old norm of “respecting your elders even when they are convicted thieves”. So even when ordinary Zimbaweans were suffering at the repressive hands of Robert Mugabe, Mr Kikwete failed to denounce the rigged election and call him to account.
I am not sure Mr Obama grasped the signals he was sending by choosing the Tanzanian leader as his first African guest. This was a man who rabble-roused the AU into refusing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court regarding the indictment of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for his role in the genocide in Darfur. The AU’s refusal was a blessing to corrupt criminal leaders around the continent.
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