Bush Victory Draws Mixed Reaction in Africa

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

Nairobi, Kenya (CNSNews.com) - As the realization that President Bush will be in the White House for another four years sinks in, political leaders and academics have largely reacted pessimistically.

Setting the tone, Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori said the world should expect to see "more dictatorship on an international scale and more extremism" as a result of Bush's re-election.

"We are going to see even more isolationism where America will not bother about the United Nations," Awori said. "To me that is a very sad affair."

Analysts say Africans are generally unhappy for two reasons. Many believe Bush's first term foreign policy has endangered security, and many see him as being reluctant to meet pledges of aid to Africa, including funding for the fight against HIV-AIDS.

Others, however, have praised Bush for the AIDS funding initiative.

Last year, the president requested Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion in new funds, "to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean."

Kenyan pediatrician Dr. Margaret Ogola said funding in the past had been aimed at contraception.

"This was one of my problems for many years as a health professional that I could not treat ordinary illnesses while we had massive contraceptive technology as part of the aid given to Africans," she said.

"The impact of the Bush administration on the health structures in Africa is going to be felt for many years down the line - positively."

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been praised for successfully reducing HIV infection levels through policies that promoted abstinence as well as condom use, said Bush had "supported us in the fight against HIV/Aids and this support is expected to continue."

In the research field, Bush's re-election has not been welcomed in Africa.

Professor Wilmot James of the Africa Genome Initiative (AGI), a South African-based body coordinating genome research by African scientists, called the election outcome a "setback to science research in Africa," an opinion shared by Ed Rege, the director of biotechnology at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute.

Dr Makumi Mwagiru, director of University of Nairobi's Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies said the Bush administration had good plans for Africa, but they had not been translated to action, and Africa was still being "marginalized."

More negative reaction came from the chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, professor Makau Mutua, who called the election result a "nightmare" for the international community.

But the president of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, said he warmly welcomed Bush's re-election, which he said would add more vigor to the war against international terrorism, which has assumed a critical dimension at this period."

Bush's re-election also drew positive reaction from other African leaders, including South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi.

The U.S.-based lobby group Africa Action says U.S. policy toward Africa during the current administration has been driven mostly by geopolitical considerations relating to the war against Iraq and U.S. interests in African oil.

The group wants Washington to focus on the war against AIDS, cancel Africa's debt, support African conflict-resolution efforts, promote peace, and invest resources in health and education.

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