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Can President Obama Change African Dictators’ Ways? Not Likely, Says Chadian Blogger

President Barack Obama with 40 African presidents in  Washington DC  - via carrapide - Public Domain

President Barack Obama with 40 African presidents in Washington DC – via carrapide – Public Domain

As the first 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit came to an end in Washington, D.C. on Aug., 6 2014, many African bloggers were left wondering about the potential impact (or lack there of) of U.S. diplomacy in Africa. This is the first summit in which an American president met with 40 African presidents to strengthen ties between the United States and the African continent.

This initiative is a follow-up on President Obama's visit to Africa in 2013. During that visit, Obama emphasized in his address to the Ghanian parliament that “Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

The summit was to be centered around the issue of improving security and bolstering trade and investment on the continent. Yet other current events, such as the Ebola outbreak and various internal conflicts on the continent, made their way on to the agenda. A few African observers were hoping that some of the human rights issues in several countries would also be addressed, but it seems that some topics were put away for the time being. 

At the conclusion of the summit, the U.S. pledged $33 billion in new trade and investment commitments and promised to launch a new African peacekeeping partnership with the goal of “quickly deploying African peacekeepers in support of U.N. or [African Union] missions”. Before meeting with African leaders, Obama also addressed a group of 500 young people attending the first Washington fellowship for young African leaders. Here is a video of the exchange between the young African leaders and the president: 

It is in that context that blogger Senior Mbary from Chad opined on the impact of U.S.-Africa strategy in a French-language blog post entitled, “Gouvernance démocratique: jusqu’où ira le président Obama avec les dictateurs africains?” (Democratic governance: How far is President Obama willing to go with the matter of curbing African dictators?). The post was published on the blog of Makaila Nguela, another renowned Chadian dissident blogger whom the Chadian authorities are trying to silence after his public criticism of Chadian President Idriss Deby.

Makaila Nguebla. via Global Voices Advocacy

Makaila Nguebla, via Global Voices Advocacy

Here is an excerpt from Mbary lengthy blog post:

 Quoi qu’on dise, la démocratie présente un aspect universel : un candidat est élu sur la base de son programme (en théorie). Si au prochain mandat, il n’a pas donné satisfaction, sa propre famille politique hésitera à voter à nouveau pour lui si les jeux démocratiques sont respectés, c’est-à-dire si les gens votent réellement selon leurs convictions.

Le constat est que si les citoyens d’un pays se sentent en sécurité, c’est le cœur qui parle lors des votes et non le ventre ou l’appartenance ethnique ou religieuse dès lors que les règles de jeux démocratiques sont respectées.

Le président Obama a donné un avant-goût de l’espoir quant aux résultats du prochain sommet afro-américain  lors de sa rencontre avec les jeunes africains. Mais la question fondamentale que l’on est en droit de se poser est la suivante : Quelles mesures le président américain sera en mesure de prendre pour faire changer les choses ? Cette interrogation est née pour les raisons suivantes :

-    Lors de sa première tournée africaine lors de son premier mandat, le président Obama avait déclaré au Ghana que l’Afrique n’a pas besoin des hommes forts mais d’institutions fortes, ce qui revient à dire que l’Afrique a besoin d’un ancrage démocratique fort, nécessaire à son développement. Plus de cinq ans après cette déclaration, rien n’a changé. Bien au contraire, la liste des présidents qui ont changé leur constitution ou qui sont sur le point de le faire pour se maintenir au pouvoir ne fait que s’allonger,  même si la plus part de ces dirigeants ont déjà  plus de dix ans au pouvoir;

-    Les intérêts mafieux dans le pré carré français. Quel est la capacité réelle du président Obama à influencer le président Hollande qui soutient aveuglement les dictateurs comme Idriss Deby du Tchad, sachant que celui-ci a des soutiens très solides au sein de l’armée française, le vrai patron de la politique africaine de la France;

-    Au Togo et au Congo-Brazzaville, ces mêmes milieux mafieux sont prêts à tout pour convaincre Hollande de supporter ces présidents dictateurs en place au nom de la stabilité et de la sécurité comme si sans ces gens, les pays allaient disparaitre. Quelle est la stratégie de Mr Obama pour contrer et neutraliser ces milieux ?

Que des interrogations sans réponse pour le moment.

Whatever one's opinion about democracy is, it holds one universal aspect: a candidate is supposed to be elected on the basis of its program (in theory). If during their term, they do perform satisfactorily, the process should allow an alternative option to be chosen if the democratic process is respected, that is to say, if people actually vote according to their convictions.

The fact remains that if a citizen of a country feels safe in his own nation, he will choose the candidates that better fits his values and not his ethnic or religious affiliations.

President Obama gave us some hope about favoring such a process at the end of the Africa-America Summit by meeting with young African leaders before the summit. But the fundamental question remained: What steps can the American president take to change things around? This question arose because of the following reasons:

- During his first tour of Africa, President Obama said in Ghana that Africa does not need strong men, but strong institutions, which means that Africa needs a strong democratic support that is necessary for its development. More than five years after that statement, nothing has changed. On the contrary, the list of presidents who have tweaked their constitution in order to stay in power had increased, although most of these leaders have already stayed more than ten years in power.

- The issue of France's lobby in her former colonial territories. What is the actual capacity of President Obama to change French President Hollande's blind support of dictators such as Idriss Deby of Chad? Everyone knows that Deby benefits from strong supporters within the French army, the real decision maker of the African policy of France.

- In Togo and the Republic of Congo, the mafia would do anything to talk Hollande into maintaining those ruling dictators in place in the name of stability and security as  if without these people, the country would disappear. What is Obama's strategy to counter and neutralize these networks ? 

For the moment, those three questions still remain unanswered.

  • wale

    This Chadian must be an epic clown, doesnt he know that obama too virtually a despot?, flagrantly curbing fundamental rights , revoking the citizenship of people , committing atrocities in iraq? so what is the difference between obama and the so called african dictators?, this man should open his eyes properly

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