Rare Visit Underscores Tangles In Obama’s Ties To Africa

Source: Michael D. Shear, Nicholas Kulish and Lydia Polgreen / The New York Times

DAKAR, Senegal — As a freshman senator from Illinois, Barack Obama told a packed auditorium in Kenya’s capital, “I want you all to know that as your ally, your friend and your brother, I will be there in every way I can.”

But he will not be there. President Obama, who Wednesday began his second trip to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office, will skip his father’s homeland once again, a reflection of the many challenges that his administration has faced in trying to make a lasting imprint across the continent.

Despite decades of American investment to promote stability in the volatile region of East Africa, Kenya just elected a president indicted by the International Criminal Court, accused of bankrolling death squads driven by ethnic rivalry. It was the outcome that Washington had desperately tried to avoid, and Mr. Obama’s advisers determined that a photo op of the American president shaking hands with a man awaiting trial was not one they needed.

“It just wasn’t the best time for the president to travel to Kenya at this point,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

To read this article in its entirety visit The New York Times