Obama to meet with four Francophone African leaders By TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW | Sunday, July 24   2011 at  17:02

John Atta Mills, the president of Ghana, walks alongside US President Barack Obama at the Presidential Castle in Accra on July 11, 2009. Photo | FILE  

US President Barack Obama will meet with four West African presidents in Washington this week in a bid to strengthen bilateral cooperation and push for the democratisation process in their respective countries.

Three of the African leaders, Alasssane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Alpha Condé of Guinea and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger will officially be at the White House for the first time.

The other president is Yayi Boni of Benin who has had occasion to be invited to the White House in December 2006 when President George W. Bush was in office. Over the past two months Benin has been rocked by a series of demonstrations by health and social workers.

A statement from the White House on Friday said the meeting will take place on July 29 and will provide an opportunity for the African leaders to solicit support for the economic development of their countries.

Regional issues

The leaders are also expected to discuss regional political and security issues including the threat of international terrorism and in particular the activity in the Sahel of the terror group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

All four of President Obama’s guests came to power through a democratic ballot but under difficult circumstances, especially in the case of Condé’s Guinea and Ouattara’s Cote d’Ivoire.

At the moment, all four countries are either battling against complex internal political and economic conditions.

Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has been solicited by several West African countries to visit.

His only West African – and indeed sub-Saharan – stop so far has been in Ghana in July 2009.