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Published 10th July 2009

Vol 50 No 14


Barack Obama launches his agenda in Ghana

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The African audience hopes that President Obama's declared Africa policy will be both distinctive and practicable

As in so many areas the expectations are that President Barack Obama's Africa policy will be a break with the past. In some respects, the President's decision to sketch out an African policy represents a new development in itself. Often in response to public demand, successive administrations – in Washington and elsewhere in the West – have spelt out wish lists of continental objectives for Africa without a policy plan or the resources to attain them. The result has been frequent and deep disappointment. The Obama administration's advisors say they see a way to change that, partly because of changes within Africa itself and also because of wider international changes in economic and political conditions.


Obama's akwaaba moment

John Atta Mills welcomes the first African-American US President and his entourage to Ghana amid hopes for US investment and cooperation

The wet and windy weather of Ghana's rainy season will not dampen the warm welcome for United States President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on 10-11 July. The governing Natio...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

At its 1-3 July summit at Sirte, Libya, the African Union proved as adept at diplomatic double standards as its European counterpart. After a campaign to pressure the junta that seized power from Mauritania’s elected government last August, the AU announced that the time was ripe to lift sanctions in recognition of the military’s attempts to organise their own elections, which many political parties will boycott. Yet the President of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, said the AU was ‘extremel...
At its 1-3 July summit at Sirte, Libya, the African Union proved as adept at diplomatic double standards as its European counterpart. After a campaign to pressure the junta that seized power from Mauritania’s elected government last August, the AU announced that the time was ripe to lift sanctions in recognition of the military’s attempts to organise their own elections, which many political parties will boycott. Yet the President of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, said the AU was ‘extremely concerned’ about the attempt by Mamadou Tandja to change Niger’s constitution. Another army general in politics, Tandja was at least initially elected. Eritrea faces sanctions for meddling in Somalia but Sudan will not, despite repeated meddling in Chad. The biggest inconsistencies revolve around the AU’s attitude to the International Criminal Court. The AU’s decision to suspend cooperation with the ICC on its warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s President Omer el Beshir for mass murder in Darfur appalled many African human rights activists. Might the AU now also suspend cooperation with the ICC should it indict senior politicians in Kenya, following Kofi Annan’s despatch of an envelope to The Hague listing the names of those said to bear most reponsibility for last year’s political violence? And what about Joseph Kony and Jean-Pierre Bemba? The AU’s vote for selective prosecutions is a step towards the destruction of both the ICC and the hopes for an extension of international justice.
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