Friday, March 29, 2013
President Barack Obama showered praise Thursday on leaders of
Sierra Leone, Malawi, Senegal and Cape Verde, calling them symbols of
democratic success that could lead an emerging continent.
President Obama met the leaders at the White House
as part of an effort to promote nations in sub-Saharan Africa that can
serve as exemplars for democratic development across the region.
“The reason that I am meeting with these four is
they exemplify the progress that we are seeing in Africa,” said
President Obama, noting that all of his guests had faced tough political
He noted Sierra Leone’s civil war, Malawi’s recent
constitutional crisis, political turmoil in Senegal and formerly
low-level growth in Cape Verde that have given way to stability and
encouraging economic signs.
“They exemplify the progress that we are seeing in
Africa,” Obama said, adding that the discussions had focused on
building on new democratic governments and political transparency and
accountability to citizens.
“They recognise there is still more work to be
done,” said President Obama, the son of a Kenyan father, offering to
partner with African nations to improve transportation and economic
“No continent has a greater potential, greater
upside than the continent of Africa,” President Obama said, though
warning that problems still lingered, as violent extremists and drug
cartels eye a foothold in the region.
“Economic prosperity doesn’t happen if you have constant conflict.”
Leaders in the meeting include President Ernest
Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President
Joyce Banda of Malawi and Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira Neves of
President Obama hosted a similar meeting in 2011 with leaders of Benin, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Niger.
The US President released a new Africa strategy in
June, declaring a continent torn by poverty, corruption and discord
could be the world’s next big economic success story.
The blueprint seeks to boost trade, strengthen
peace, security and good governance and bolster democratic institutions,
and is designed to help Africa’s increasingly youthful population lead
its own development.
Washington, tooling a regional policy toward trade
and development, also views Africa’s intractable conflicts with
concern, including areas vulnerable to extremists such as in Somalia and