President Obama arrived in Ghana with his family this evening on his first, much-anticipated visit to sub-Saharan Africa. Tomorrow, the president will deliver a speech in the capital city of Accra, where he is expected to commend Ghana for the example the country has set in Africa for democracy and justice.
Commenting on the significance of the trip, Enough Co-founder John Prendergast urged renewed attention from the United States to the continent’s hotspots on the occasion of the president’s visit:
President Obama’s historic visit to Ghana addresses the crucial issue of building sustainable partnerships with African nations on issues of mutual concern. What needs to top the list for follow up to this trip is how Africa and the U.S. can partner to end the two deadliest wars in the world, those in Sudan and Congo.
In March, President Obama took an important step toward addressing the ongoing conflicts in Sudan by appointing Major General Scott Gration special envoy to Sudan. This evening, citing unnamed sources, Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog reported breaking news that the president would name former congressman Howard Wolpe to the post of special envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region.
These are hopeful moves, but as Prendergast noted:
Good intentions and an envoy are not enough. A clear policy is needed that prioritizes the end of these wars and the development of potent pressures and incentives to support the compromises necessary for peace. U.S. leadership in both the peace processes themselves and the multilateral diplomacy needed to craft the sticks and carrots will be a major determinant of success or failure. President Obama’s record in Africa will in large part be judged by how effectively he addresses the two deadly conflicts in Sudan and Congo.
Photo: Billboard in Accra features President Obama and Ghanaian President John Atta Mills. AP