Bill Clinton to visit Senegal ahead of Obama

US President Barack Obama. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Former US President Bill Clinton is expected in Senegal hours before the arrival of the incumbent President Barack Obama, sources said.

The leading Le Populair daily on Tuesday quoted American embassy sources hinting that the two statesmen could likely meet during their stay in Dakar.

The sources further said that President Obama was expected to extend his visit initially billed for 48 hours to 72 hours, beginning June 26.
Even though the exact reason for Mr Clinton’s visit was not made clear, analysts said he was expected to meet political and civil society leaders “in a bid to strengthen the democratic dividends” in Senegal.

Several sitting world leaders, including, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the late Pope Jean Paul II, have visited Senegal over the last decade and toured the famous slave dungeon on Goree Island.

During Mr Clinton’s visit to Senegal in 1988, he met with the then President Abdou Diouf, human rights activists and paid an emotional visit to Goree Island.

As he struggled to hold back his tears, Mr Clinton addressed the issue of slavery and paid tribute to contributions that Black Americans have made to the US.

Also during that visit, President Clinton delivered several public addresses, praising Senegal for its democracy and international peacekeeping efforts.

Clinton’s successor George W. Bush also visited Senegal on July 8, 2003 and virtually had the same agenda, meeting with Senegal’s former President Abdoulaye Wade and rights activists and inspecting some USAid-sponsored projects.

The US has always rated relations with Senegal as “excellent” and “cordial” since the latter’s independence in 1960 until 2012 when the relations dipped over President Wade’s bid for a third mandate.

Several leading democracies slammed the Wade regime for the move which sparked a wave of violence across the country, culminating in his defeat during a free and fair election in April last year.

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