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Namibia: What impact will an Obama re-election have on Namibia as well as Africa?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Source: New Era (Namibia)

With the American Presidential elections expected in November 2012, New Era spoke to local political analysts to find out what impact the re-election or, alternatively loss of power of the incumbent President Barack Obama, will mean for Namibia and Africa.

The Executive Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Graham Hopwood, believes that Obama mainly focused on the severe domestic economic challenges the US faces, limiting his foreign policy, particularly in Africa.

"I think he has also been aware that if he had adopted an explicit pro-Africa foreign policy and made several trips to the continent, he would have been playing into the hands of those who have accused him of not having US interests at heart," explained Hopwood.

He further highlighted that Obama's administration had not come up with a new policy initiative relating to Africa, unlike his predecessor George W. Bush who introduced the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

"He however did send 100 US troops to help Uganda fight internal rebels but this kind of intervention is limited," added Hopwood.

He cautioned that Africa should not expect too much if Obama does win a second term, as the US will still be mired in the current economic crisis.

Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) Secretary, Dr Elijah Ngurare, says every American president, whether black or white, only pursues the national interests of the United States both in terms of domestic and foreign policy.

The US interests include access to oil and to "befriend" the Middle East to be supplied with oil although they (Middle Eastern countries) are not democratic, according to Ngurare.

He explained that the US invaded Iraq for oil as well as Afghanistan for ulterior motives.

"The presence of chaos makes more profit for them," he said, adding that the US is threatening to go to war with Iran because of the flow of oil.

"Obama came into power pretending to be pro human rights but it is not the case," he said, explaining that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombed Libya under his administration.

Ngurare stressed that Obama has brought nothing of material to Namibia, making no difference if he stays or goes. "Only if the US thinks they can benefit from Namibia with the possible discovery of oil for example, will they temporarily 'befriend' us with the aim of exploiting us," he added.

A political analyst at the Polytechnic of Namibia, Dr Andrew Niikondo, echoed Ngurare's sentiments saying Obama had not done as Africa expected of him in terms of foreign aid and the promotion of peace and stability.

"His administration was involved in the Libyan conflict, which most Africans were not happy with," said Niikondo.

"They were not supposed to go to war but to assist and empower the African Union in solving that problem."

He added that Africans expected more from Obama because he is of African descent. However, they have not seen something significant from Obama.

"His administration killed Osama Bin Laden and overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, which in the Americans' eyes may be good if they view that as an achievement. However his popularity is declining in the country's opinion polls," explained Niikondo.

On the contrary, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Secretary for International Relations, Kandy Nehova, said Obama's re-election matters because his administration ended the dirty war in Iraq.

"The Americans are best to judge who will lead them, but I hope he is re-elected."

Although foreign aid to Namibia was started during the Bush administration, Namibia continues to receive assistance from the US, according to Nehova.

"Furthermore, we have the opportunity to export our goods to the US with the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Act so we have to continue good relations with them," he explained.

Nehova further explained that Obama came to power during a time of economic crisis, which could have limited him not to do more for Africa.

He stressed that it is up to Namibians to approach the US with needs instead of waiting for their help. "We should do more because we are the ones in need of assistance," he said, asking what Namibians had done to approach them so far.



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