President Obama’s visit to Senegal is worthy of praise to both the Senegalese people and President Macky Sall. The visit from the leader of the Free World himself a son of an African from Kenya has a lot of historic parallels to it. Senegal was being recognized for the tremendous progress the country made in Democracy, good governance and respect for human rights.
Mr. Obama in a joint press conference and in addressing the gathering referenced the democratic progress Senegal and other sister African countries have made including Siera Leone, Ghana and Liberia just to name a few. He recognized that although it is difficult and challenging to establish a true and viable Democracy, it is worth the efforts and is the right thing to do. Obama said “History shows that governments that are more open and more responsive to its citizens are more effective in delivering basic services. They are also more successful in attracting the trade and investment that creates jobs and lift people out of poverty”
He underscored the importance of governments working through the aspirations of its people in truly addressing programs and policies that further benefits the country and it’s citizenry. He praised the Senegalese people and President Sall in working hard to defend democracy, rule of law and strengthening of Democratic institutions in Senegal. He called Senegal “one of the great democracies in Africa and can be a great example for the continent”
The proud host President Sall on his part thank President Obama for his historic visit and for strengthening democracy and bilateral relationships between the two countries. President Sall pledged to continue his reform agenda and to focus on the basic needs of the Senegalese people. President Sall stated that the visit highlighted Senegal’s exemplary role and the importance of the African continent. Both leaders emphasized the importance of trade and cooperation between the United States and Senegal. Obama pledged to work with Senegal to bring lasting peace in its southern region – the Casamance.
While President Obama’s visit to Senegal in many quarters is seen as an encouragement of Democratic progress in Africa, it is also regarded as a slap and or a mockery of those African leaders yet to embrace the beauty of Democracy and who continue to oppress their people. Senegal’s next door neighbor Gambia whose leader President Jammeh reportedly wanted to join Obama in Dakar seems the recipient of disapproval of his heavy handedness in continuing to hold his citizens at ransom. Many close observers had a direct eye on Gambia and its leader for his extreme dictatorship, human rights abuses and lack of transparency in governance.
While the world focused on Obama’s visit and celebrating the good success of Senegal’s Democracy, President Jammeh and his robber stamping parliament was busy disapproving a bilateral maritime bill between the Gambia and the United States. The laughing disapproval by the House is seen as a protest for Obama’s snoop of the Gambian leader. Many simply laughed at the President as any common sense leader and elected representatives will be glad to approve bilateral relationship with the world’s most powerful country. By this disapproval, President Jammeh has once again managed to put Gambia in a more conflict of interest with one of its strongest allies – The United States.
Main while the American Embassy in Banjul posted this notice on its face book page “President Obama’s remarks this morning, while speaking to a meeting with regional judicial leaders:
“Societies are stronger and more stable when there are checks and balances on government power; when citizens know that their rights will be protected from arbitrary or capricious actions; when they have peaceful recourse when they’ve been on the receiving end of injustice.
Rule of law is what upholds universal human rights. Sometimes when nobody else will, a judge can stand up on behalf of someone, and in the United States, one of the basic principles that we strongly believe in is that the judiciary is most important when it comes to minority rights, because the political process oftentimes will recognize the desires of the majority — the question is when people are on the unpopular side of an issue or a member of a minority group, where can they seek recourse — and oftentimes it’s in the courts.”
The statement was made during Obama’s meeting with Chief Justices of regional countries and is interpreted as a direct stab to African dictatorship and the Jammeh regime in particular which continue to be isolated both regionally and internationally. The statement above clearly contradicts what obtains in Banjul compared to Senegal and other countries in Africa.
President Obama will continue his African tour heading to South Africa to possibly meet the ailing icon and hero Nelson Mandela who is reportedly in critical but stable condition in a South African hospital. Many are praying for Mr. Mandela and his family and hopping that President Obama will meet him and pray with him.