First Lady’s Africa Trip Re-Ignites Criticism

Africa advocates say White House overlooks troubled continent
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2011 7:28 AM CDT
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks before helping to construct a playground at the Imagine Southeast Public Charter Elementary School June 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Michelle Obama's trip to southern Africa this week is giving new life to criticism that the Obama administration is overlooking the troubled continent, reports the Washington Post. The president has been to sub-Saharan Africa only once since taking office—a 24-hour trip to Ghana in 2009—and critics say the region has been largely ignored. The American government is “not seeing Africa as a big priority," said a spokesman for TransAfrica Forum. "There has been some ambivalence.”

But the Obama administration is defending its policies, with one official noting that the White House has been active, helping prevent violence from the Ivory Coast to southern Sudan. Others call it unrealistic to expect this administration to be different. “We really said if a black man became president, it would change the world, but we are basically back at the same level we were before,” said a researcher specializing in Africa policy. “The bulk of the policy is still the legacy of the Clinton and Bush years." For an ongoing account of the first lady's trip, check out the Washington Post blog.

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