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L'Observateur Paalga, Burkina Faso

Obama and Africa:
Start with Northern Mali!

By H. Marie Ouédraogo

Translated By Rose Karabush

7 November 2012

Edited by Natalie Clager

Burkina Faso - L'Observateur Paalga - Original Article (French)

“Four more years for Obama!” The rallying cry of the incumbent president’s supporters reached a good number of their fellow citizens and, above all, those of the much-courted members of the Electoral College. And so, at only 51 years old, Barack Obama has won an overwhelming majority of swing states, clearing the way for a second historic term as head of the premiere world power. The first black president of the United States, who rode into power on the strength of “yes we can,” has once again convinced his compatriots that he is the best prepared to guide them out of the tunnel.

Four more years for Obama!

Unfortunately for the winner of this electoral marathon, the gods of the ballot box were not merciful. Despite his advantage against his rival, the man who calls himself “more determined and more inspired than ever” runs a strong risk of coming up against the resistance of a congress which, in a continuance of the past two years, is not fully Democratic. The Republicans have pulled it off: They have kept control of the House of Representatives, where all seats were in play, even as the Democrats maintained their grip on the Senate.

One strange aspect of the American system is that, contrary to what is done elsewhere, voting for the president is done indirectly. The 215 million-odd voters went to the polls Tuesday to elect members of the Electoral College who, in turn, officially vote for the president and his vice president. The American election is therefore not so much a national election as it is 50 indirect elections paired with legislative elections and a multitude of referendums.

Graceful in defeat, Mitt Romney didn’t neglect to congratulate his Democratic adversary, who also saluted the passionate campaign of his challenger. “We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country,” Obama insisted, planning a meeting with him “to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.” Here we have an important lesson of democracy — a road map, perhaps, for a return to dialogue between the donkey and its eternal rival, the elephant. Above all, this is a sign of a return to business and to the international stage for the reelected president.

His position confirmed, Barack Obama can now leave his mark on this two-term mandate, which began with slogans of hope and change. “The best is yet to come,” he promised again to the crowds at his victory. On the other hand, what will become of Africa, so close and yet so far from the concerns of the first African-American in the White House?

This question is posed with that much more urgency since the Sahel, and particularly northern Mali, have become hotspots for Islamist networks — a veritable Sahelistan void of tourists and prey to the torments of the strictest Sharia law. So, what will Obama’s administration do to help governments of this region to assure peace and security in a place plagued by trafficking of all sorts? Some drones would fit the bill quite well, along with (of course) the accompanying logistics.



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