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Clinton Leaves on a Seven-Nation Africa Visit


U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to leave Washington Monday on a seven-nation Africa visit. The five day trip will take her to Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde.

Clinton is expected to spotlight President Barack Obama's commitment to making Africa a priority in U.S. foreign policy.

Her visit is the earliest in any U.S. administration that both the President and the Secretary of State have visited Africa.

Professor Okey Onyejekwe, director of governance at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa told VOA that Clinton's Africa visit will help concretize the core principles President Obama recently unveiled in Accra, Ghana.

"I imagine that this is really a followup to President Obama's visit to Accra in which he basically sketched out the general thrust of America's policy towards Africa. And I think that it will be worthwhile if now she can operationalize and concretize some of the raw principles which was contained in Obama's speech in Accra," Onyejekwe said.

He said Clinton's stance would replicate President Obama's message.

"Whatever position she takes should reflect the broad principles which were contained in Obama's speech. And here again I think that it's a question of carrot and stick," he said.

Onyejekwe said the visit should shed light on a different America policy from previous administration.

"We are also expecting on the continent in my judgment some consistency and flexibility in terms of U.S policy. And here again I think where the difference can be made from past administrations that had brought principles, but were very selective in terms of the operationalization of those principles," Onyejekwe said.

Hillary Clinton is also scheduled to meet Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

The meeting comes at a critical moment for Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991 after long-time President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown.

Somalia today is home to a growing number of hard-line Islamic insurgent groups including al-Shabab.

Onyejekwe said that there is need for the international community as well as the Africa Union to help stabilize the crisis in Somalia.

"It's important for the global community and African states in particular to stabilize and normalize the situation in Somalia for obvious reasons. One of which is that the threat to peace and security in the sub-region is enormous and with external actors also actively engaged," Onyejekwe said.

He said mistakes made during the previous U. S administration should be avoided in attempting to resolvo the crisis in Somalia.

"They must also take into consideration the realities on the ground and the various actors so that they do not make the same mistakes that were made during the Bush administration," he said.

Onyejekwe said there should be a strong partnership of equals between the United States and Africa.

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