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Obama unlikely to shift stand on Africa policy in second term

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US President Barack Obama greets Members of the Ghanaian Parliament at the Accra International Conference Centre on July 11, 2009 while on his sole Africa tour. Photo/FILE

US President Barack Obama greets Members of the Ghanaian Parliament at the Accra International Conference Centre on July 11, 2009 while on his sole Africa tour. Photo/FILE  Reuters

By KEVIN J KELLEY Special Correspondent

Posted  Saturday, December 8   2012 at  18:17
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President Barack Obama’s disappointing performance with regard to Africa is unlikely to improve in his second term, a panel of five scholars agreed last week at the annual meeting of a US academic association focused on the continent.

“Old wine in old bottles — that’s how I see it,” declared Emira Woods, an analyst at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.

Ms Woods was referring specifically to the possibility of UN ambassador Susan Rice being appointed secretary of state.

She said Ms Rice’s dogged support for Rwandan President Paul Kagame suggests that “friendly dictators could have an even more privileged position” in policy-making circles if Ms Rice succeeds Hillary Clinton in the top US diplomatic post.

Abdi Samatar, a professor at the University of Minnesota, also cited Ms Rice’s role in allegedly enabling Rwanda to intervene militarily in the eastern DRC.

New generation

Prof Samatar associated her with “a new generation of African-Americans in the US government who are less driven by the ideals of Martin Luther King and former UN ambassador Andrew Young than by career goals.”

Prof Samatar rejected the view that President Obama will act more favourably towards Africa during his second term since he no longer faces re-election pressures.

Because US policy rests on underlying economic and geo-strategic interests, “there is no reason to see a shift in Africa policy” occurring in the next four years, Prof Samatar argued.

“The Obama administration has pursued the policies of the previous administration,” added Paul Zeleza, a professor at Loyola Marymount University.

He said African economies and workers have not benefited from the Agoa trade preference programme, and he deplored “the increased militarisation of US policy through Africom.”

“The election of Obama was greeted with great euphoria [among Africans], but few of the hopes for the first president of African descent have been realised,” Prof Zeleza asserted.

President Obama could travel to black Africa in his second term but that won’t signify a change in direction, added Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, a professor at the University of North Carolina.

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