Obama Praises Senegal as Example of Democratic Accountability

President Obama, left, and Senegal's President Macky Sall meet at the Presidential Palace in Dakar June 27.
President Obama, left, and Senegal’s President Macky Sall meet at the Presidential Palace in Dakar June 27.

By Stephen Kaufman
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
June 27, 2013

President Obama said Africa is “a continent on the move,” with six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, and he highlighted Senegal as one of Africa’s most stable democracies and strongest U.S. partners.

Speaking with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Dakar June 27, Obama said it is “a moment of great progress and great promise for the continent,” as African countries like Senegal are seeing economic growth, empowering their citizens, and making improvements in their democratic governance.

“As more Africans across this continent stand up and demand governments that are accountable and serve the people, I believe Senegal can be a great example,” he said.

“Senegal has never suffered a military coup. There are free and fair elections, repeated transfers of power — peacefully — a vibrant civil society, a strong press, and dozens of political parties,” Obama said.

He praised Sall for pursuing “ambitious reforms” to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Senegal, and said history has shown that open and responsive governments are “more effective in delivering basic services” and “more successful in attracting the trade and investment that creates jobs and lifts people out of poverty.”

He also thanked Senegal for its peacekeeping missions across the continent, including the country’s current efforts in Mali.

Obama said the United States will continue to stand with the Senegalese people in support of their democracy to help show that a democratic government delivers justice, progress and jobs.

“The United States will remain one of Senegal’s strongest partners in development — from new roads and bridges, so merchants can get their goods to the market, to new textbooks and schools, including the Internet, so that more students can learn,” he said.

According to a June 27 White House fact sheet, in 2012 the Obama administration provided more than $292 million to support Senegal and other sub-Saharan African countries in their efforts to broaden political participation and improve governance.

The United States “will remain a steady partner as they continue to work to strengthen electoral processes, ensure transparency and accountability in government, and provide security while respecting and protecting universal rights and fundamental freedoms,” the fact sheet said.

In his remarks, Sall said Obama’s visit will help to further build trust for Senegal’s corporate and business environment, and that Africa’s development will come through partnership with private investors and trade.

“This has been a decade towards democratization, and this is a prerequisite for the development of Africa,” Sall said. “We have tremendous natural resources. We have a lot of human resources. We need infrastructure to accompany the development of all these resources, but all this in the context of good governance, otherwise these resources will be in vain.”

Continued U.S. development support “should enable us to further boost the already excellent relations at the political and economic levels. And I’m sure that this will give an additional boost to our relationship,” he said.

Obama will remain in Senegal until June 28, when he will fly to South Africa to meet with South African leaders and visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid leaders were imprisoned.

The president will then travel to Tanzania July 1–2 before returning to Washington July 3.