Analysts Don't Expect Changes in Bush's Policies Toward Africa

By Stephen Mbogo | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Nairobi, Kenya ( - African foreign policy analysts are not expecting significant changes in U.S. policy toward the continent during the second Bush term, but they are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Chris Abong'o of the University of Nairobi said here that while Condoleezza Rice's appointment as U.S. secretary of state would not necessarily change American policy towards Africa, she may introduce a bigger focus on gender issues in U.S.-Africa relations.

Abong'o cautioned against the view that Africa should expect a favorable focus from the administration because the nation's top diplomat is African-American.

"Her predecessor, Colin Powell, was black and nothing much changed [as a result]," he said.

Nonetheless, he expected nations in the greater Horn of Africa region to get more attention from the U.S. because of their willingness to cooperate in the global anti-terror war.

For instance, Uganda and Tanzania have now passed anti-terrorism laws as requested by Washington, while Kenya was in the process of doing so.

Elsewhere, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti had either offered intelligence or infrastructure support to the campaign.

Peter Kor, a Nairobi-based Sudanese and foreign policy analyst also did not expect any major changes in U.S. policy towards Africa.

Of Rice's appointment, he said that any change in emphasis would come from the White House, not the State Department.

Kor said, however, that the U.S. may become more engaged with Sudan through increased funding for the reconstruction of the war-devastated southern region.

The U.S. is the largest donor nation in humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in southern Sudan and the country's other troubled zone, Darfur.

Washington was instrumental in promoting the negotiations process that resulted in a comprehensive peace agreement signed early January to end a two-decade war between Khartoum and Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels.

A critic of Bush administration foreign policies, Ann-Louise Colgan of the Washington-based advocacy group, Africa Action, said its policies relating to the continent would be based on "calculations of Africa's geo-strategic significance."

The U.S. would seek to foster military and security relationships which advanced its own agenda, she argued.

"U.S. policies have been driven by the quest for Africa's natural resources, and have sought to promote greater trade and investment ties with key states on the continent."

Colgan said what set the current White House apart were two key tenets of its foreign policy philosophy - rejection of multilateralism in addressing urgent global issues, and what she called its embrace of the ideology of the religious right.

If the U.S. and other wealthy nations were serious about Africa in 2005, they must cancel African nations' debts, increase their funding to fight HIV/AIDS, fulfill previous promises on trade-related reforms, and support multilateral efforts to promote peace and security in Africa, with Darfur an immediate priority, she said.

In the past week Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, praised the Bush administration's anti-AIDS efforts in Africa.

Its $15 billion, five year Emergency Plan for AIDS is the largest commitment ever by a single nation toward an international health initiative.

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