Media Review Special – Obama’s Second Inauguration – African elections

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 01/21/2013

Please note: The following news items are presented here for informational purposes. The views expressed within them are those of the authors and/or individuals quoted, not those of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the National Defense University, or the Department of Defense.

Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama
[...] America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice. The White House

President Obama Delivers His Second Inaugural Address [Video]
President Obama takes the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol and delivers his second inaugural address. White House on YouTube

U.S. Presidential Inaugurations Serve Multiple Purposes
The inauguration of the president of the United States is a quasi-religious holiday, a celebrity gala and an opportunity for political management all rolled into one, according to Professor Michael Cornfield, a political scientist at George Washington University in Washington. IIP Digital on For the Record – Africa . Africa Center for Strategic Studies

U.S. Africa Policy: A Second Term Pivot? – By J. Peter Pham
As the president of the United States publicly takes the oath of office for the second time, it is understandable why, in stark contrast to four years ago when Barack Obama’s unique personal history made his election to the White House the cause for intense pride and excitement across Africa, many Africans have shrugged off the event and carried on with their lives. To be fair, many Africans’ expectations of the then-new American president were wildly unrealistic and Obama had quite a number of pressing challenges demanding his immediate attention, not least of all a U.S. economy in meltdown. The African Argument

Africa Security Challenges Demand Obama’s Attention
As U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term in office, his administration faces urgent security challenges in Africa. Top on the list is the conflict in Mali, which analysts say may cause the United States to rethink its counterterrorism strategy in Africa. While U.S. drones and surveillance planes buzz the skies above conflict zones across Africa, the U.S. president has engaged little in African affairs. VOA

Nigeria: Obama Pledges Support for Democracy in Africa
President Barack Obama has said that United States would support democracy in Africa and elsewhere because it is in its interests to do so. In his inaugural address delivered Monday shortly after his public oath-taking ceremony in Washington DC, Obama said: “We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.” He also said that America would remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe and renew those institutions that extend its capacity to manage crisis abroad, adding, “For no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.” This Day on allAfrica

African-Caribbean Diaspora to Take Part in Obama Inauguration
At President Barack Obama’s second inauguration ceremony Monday, the African-Caribbean Diaspora will play a part in some of the several events. The group will host the first-ever African-Caribbean Diaspora Presidential Inaugural Ball. [...] “We are cognizant that people of the African and Caribbean Diaspora, of which we are all sons and daughters of Africa, have been praying and laboring and giving sacrificially to ensure that President Barack Obama is re-elected because he is one of us, and he is a son of Africa. We are also cognizant of the hard work that [the] president has done in spite of much opposition,” he said. VOA

Among Blacks, Pride Is Mixed With Expectations for Obama
[...] And four years ago, like so many African-Americans around the country, he saw Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency as nothing short of a shocking validation of Dr. King’s vision of a more perfect union, where the content of character trumps the color of skin. “I was so excited when he was giving that first inauguration speech,” said Mr. Brown, of Oakland, Calif. “I could feel it in my bones.” On Monday, when President Obama places his hand on Dr. King’s personal Bible to take a second, ceremonial oath of office, he will be symbolically linking himself to the civil rights hero. But Mr. Brown, along with other African-Americans interviewed recently, said their excitement would be laced with a new expectation, that Mr. Obama move to the forefront of his agenda the issues that Dr. King championed: civil rights and racial and economic equality. The new York Times

As Obama’s new term starts, foreign policy looms large
Barack Obama begins his second term of office on January 20, when, in a private session, he will be sworn in. Because January 20 is a Sunday, the official public inauguration will take place on January 21. The ceremony will be a high point for the Democratic Party. Obama is just the second Democrat to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt more than a half century ago. However, prospects for the president securing a string of major domestic policy successes are not high, as was evidenced recently with the problems reaching even a partial deal with Congress on the ‘fiscal cliff’. Obama’s narrower margin of victory in 2012 than in 2008 gives him a weaker electoral mandate. Moreover, Republicans (including the significant Tea Party caucus), who were so at odds with his first-term agenda, have maintained their firm grip of the House of Representatives, and a sizeable minority in the Senate. Daily Monitor

Africa: Where Next? U.S.-Africa Relations Under a Second Term
[...] Where does Africa fit in? During Mr Obama’s first term Peter Pham, director of the Africa programme at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, likened the continent to the stepchild of US foreign policy. “During the first four years of the Obama administration, the president has put the poor stepchild out to foster with secretary of state Hillary Clinton and others,” Mr Pham said. “Hopefully, even if Africa remains a stepchild, it is at least admitted back to the family home during the second term. Otherwise, we might find it has been adopted by other interested parties.” When Mr Obama visited Ghana in July 2009, it was the earliest a US president had ever been to Africa following inauguration. Africa, he said, was America’s partner. It was “a fundamental part” of an interconnected world and he would initiate a new relationship based on mutual respect. The implication was clear: Africa would no longer be ignored. This Is Africa on allAfrica

Can Obama’s Foreign Policy Picks Reboot His Static Africa Policy?
The first Obama administration received far more criticism than praise for its policies towards Africa. Much of that criticism was from Africa itself. There was also sometimes muted, sometimes not so muted, criticism from the so-called Washington “Africa community,” of which I am often considered a part. The criticism usually followed party lines, but a surprising number of those who support President Obama found themselves frustrated by what seemed a static approach to Africa. There is hope that the second Obama administration will be different when it comes to Africa. U.S.News & World Report

Obama inauguration to reflect more tolerant, austere America
Four years ago, the excitement around Barack Obama’s inauguration as the first black president of the United States of America reverberated around the world. An estimated two million people crammed the National Mall in Washington DC, and his stirring speech drew applause from all corners, including South Africa, where I was based at the time. But ahead of Obama’s second inauguration and the start of his final term of office, the mood is somewhat different. Far fewer people are expected to fill the Mall on Monday, when the public swearing-in ceremony takes place. MSN

African diva to sing for Obama what she sang for Mandela
South Africa’s Lira will be among many performers at Barack Obama’s inaugural celebrations tomorrow, but she is determined to be remembered for a performance to rival Marilyn Monroe’s wooing of John F Kennedy. The multi-platinum artist hopes to give Obama and other guests at the Ambassadors’ Inaugural Ball in Washington something as memorable, but perhaps not as racy, as Monroe’s Happy Birthday, Mr President. “I am going to concentrate on seeing how I can make it special, not only for me,” said the 33-year-old, whose real name is Lerato Molapo. The National

Obama’s Fresh Embrace With History
[...] The fate of Hillary Clinton is unknown. But Obama has faced criticism for his choices, in part because of past policy decisions and statements some have made, but also because he has so far named four white men to a Cabinet once lauded for its diversity. A stress on foreign policy will be reinforced by a desire to establish a legacy. Previous presidents have often seen foreign policy initiatives as a key part of the legacy they wish to build. Obama needs to be reminded that the America pride is at stake and how he holds the Middle East crises and the crises of underdevelopment in Africa will impact on his place in history. Otherwise, all the hues and cries about globalisation would have come to naught. Leadership

Reenergizing Democracy Promotion
Democracy promotion is central to U.S. foreign policy, but the loss of global democratic momentum, problems of Western political credibility, and the rise of alternative political models are making it a more challenging task than ever. The Obama administration must not back away. It should not hesitate to push governments—even friendly ones—on democratic missteps and engage non-Western democratic powers as new partners in the endeavor. Carnegie Endowment

US Election: What if South Africa could vote?
As part of GlobalPost’s project to interview 100 people in 20 locations around the world about the 2012 US election, we asked South Africans: Who do you want to win the 2012 US election? Will the election affect your country? How has your view of the US changed since President Obama took office? What should the next US president do? Globalpost

The Road Forward: What Does the World Want From Obama?
A number of polls published before the U.S. presidential election in November indicated that, on a global level, if the world could vote, they would have re-elected President Barack Obama by a wide margin. Perhaps that isn’t terribly surprising, given the immense interest Obama’s rise in 2008 created outside the U.S., the general lack of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney even at home, and the fact that in Europe Obama “is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as the most European of North American leaders,” as HuffPost France’s Geoffroy Clavel writes. And the polls were, after all, entirely hypothetical. The Huffington Post

Kenya’s 2013 Elections
Kenya’s elections this year should turn the page on the bloodshed of five years ago, but the risk of political violence is still unacceptably high. A new constitution, fresh election commission and reformed judiciary should help. But the vote, now set for 4 March 2013, will still be a high-stakes competition for power, both nationally and in 47 new counties. Forthcoming trials before the International Criminal Court (ICC) of four Kenyans for their alleged role in the 2007-2008 post-election violence look set to shape the campaign. International Crisis Group

Kenyan political polls a failure: analysts
Political party primaries to select candidates for Kenya’s March national elections have been fraught with irregularities, disorganisation and disgruntled losers, increasing the chances of conflict during the upcoming vote, analysts say. Times Live

Sierra Leone and Ghana: Setting a New Template for African Elections?
Multi-party elections were a prominent feature of Africa’s political landscape in 2012, with 23 countries conducting polls – whether presidential, legislative or municipal. News coverage in the mainstream media has, at times, been framed in clichés and stereotypes. On the eve of the Sierra Leonean elections, the BBC published an article which opened: “Sierra Leone may be about to prove it has grown up”. The preoccupation is often with little more than who is likely to win and whether there will be violence. Rapid and diverse political transitions taking place across the continent are seldom reflected upon in any depth. Think Africa Press

Remarkable progress” made by Côte d’Ivoire in the 18 months following a violent post-electoral crisis
A senior United Nations official today applauded the “remarkable progress” made by Côte d’Ivoire in the 18 months following a violent post-electoral crisis, but cautioned that a recent wave of attacks against national security targets meant the “strong and sustained support” of the Security Council would be required as the Ivorian Government worked in the coming year to heal political divisions in the country’s “sensitive” security context. “Côte d’Ivoire has registered remarkable progress on several fronts, [but] significant challenges remain to be addressed in 2013,” said Albert Gerard Koenders, head of the United Nations Operation in the country (UNOCI), as he briefed the Council on the latest development there. The meeting was also addressed by the representative of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Nations, Youssoufou Bamba. UN

Post-election power sharing deals undermine democracy in Africa
While African leaders have given power to non-elected persons in well-intentioned agreements to end post-election conflicts, analysts worry that such compromises are temporary stopgaps that contradict the principles of democracy. In the latest example of such agreements, on January 11th, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) issued a communiqué commending the negotiation efforts between the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the March 23rd Movement (M23) rebels. Sabahi

Zimbabwe: 2013 Elections – the Zimbabwe Voter’s Dilemma
So, elections are finally going to be conducted in 2013? All political parties in Zimbabwe seem to agree that elections will have to be conducted in 2013. Whether they will be held under a new constitution or the amended Lancaster Constitution or any other negotiated conditions, they will most likely be held in an environment different from any other since the advent of the MDC. While these elections have drawn much excitement both at home and abroad, there are countless potential voters who will forgo their contribution to the political discourse of their country. Analysts have given varied explanations for the emerging voter trends. The Herald on allAfrica

Madagascar rivals out of vote, but uncertainty remains
Bitter rivals Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana may have opted out of Madagascar’s presidential race, clearing a key hurdle to ending a long-running political crisis, but analysts warn the pair will likely pull strings from behind the scenes. News that the arch-enemies had agreed to step aside received a global thumbs-up and raised hopes that a post-coup deadlock may be edging to its end after dogging the Indian Ocean island for four years. AFP

Comprehensive African election calendar
Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa

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