News / Africa

Obama to Host African Leaders Next Week

Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan watches Nigeria troops parade during his inauguration ceremony at the main parade ground in Nigeria's capital of Abuja, May 29, 2011
Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan watches Nigeria troops parade during his inauguration ceremony at the main parade ground in Nigeria's capital of Abuja, May 29, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama is set to meet with two African leaders next week, while his wife and daughters prepare to travel to the continent later this month.

The White House announced Saturday that Obama will meet newly sworn-in Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday.  The statement said the two leaders will discuss the latest "regional and global developments" and their nations' "strong partnership."

On Thursday, Obama will meet with Gabon's President Ali Bongo, who is heading the United Nations Security Council for June. It said Obama and Bongo will "advance" the partnership between their two countries on a range of critical regional and global issues.

Earlier this week, the White House announced that first lady Michelle Obama will visit Botswana and South Africa from June 21-26 to promote youth leadership, education, health and wellness. Her two young daughters and her mother will accompany the first lady.

The statement said the trip is part of the Obama administration's effort to expand ties with African nations "based upon mutual respect, mutual responsibility and shared interests."

Jonathan's visit to Washington is less than two weeks after he was inaugurated, and as his country faces recovers from renewed violence.

Although Nigeria's recent elections were praised as the fairest in Nigeria's history, the post-election violence was the worst ever.  More than 800 people died in violence after Jonathan was declared the winner of the April presidential election.  A series of explosions following his swearing-in ceremony killed at least 16 more people.

Many from northern Nigeria's majority Muslim population believed someone from their region should be the next leader, after Jonathan's predecessor, a Muslim, died before completing his term.  

Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party has a tradition of rotating its presidential nominations between Muslims from the north and Christians from the south, like Jonathan.  The country of 140 million is split almost evenly between the two religious groups.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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