Obama criticizes Africa
If Africans welcoming home a native son thought that rising Democratic star Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois came only in praise of the continent of his roots, they were mistaken.
In South Africa last week, he took the government to task for its tepid response to the AIDS epidemic that has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa. He also criticized the government of President Thabo Mbeki for its "quiet diplomacy" with Zimbabwe, demanding that more pressure be put on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Kenya risks losing its status as a model of African democracy if it does not urgently crack down on corruption that has reached crisis levels and stifled development, Mr. Obama said yesterday.
Western nations must ensure they practice what they preach to African nations about graft, said Mr. Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is using the trip in part to polish his credentials in foreign policy.
"While corruption is a problem we all share, here in Kenya it is a crisis -- a crisis that's robbing an honest people of the opportunities they have fought for," Mr. Obama told an audience at the University of Nairobi.
Mr. Obama, born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and white American mother, is on his first trip to Kenya since being elected to the Senate in 2004 and has become an idol to many in the East African country, who see him as a native son.
The senator, who stopped in South Africa last week, also will travel to Djibouti and Chad, to visit refugees from Sudan's Darfur region, on a trip he hopes will bring new focus on Africa's importance.
He scrapped plans to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Congo because of postelection fighting in that country's capital, Kinshasa.
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