Clinton Does Africa

Clinton Does Africa

Clinton Does Africa

What the foreign papers are saying.
April 1 1998 3:30 AM

Clinton Does Africa

In Paris Sunday, Le Monde said President Clinton would leave Africa with the message that the "new Africa" is not willing to be bossed around. Highlighting South African President Nelson Mandela's public criticisms of the United States, which it said were a break with "the treatment usually reserved for the president of the world's greatest power," the newspaper said in its editorial that Mandela had confirmed that Africa's new leaders were not totally manipulable and controllable people. "This message will have to be listened to by the US and by every other power," the editorial concluded. "The 'new Africa' is not under orders; it will grow up by rejecting tutelage."

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In Canada, the Toronto Star praised President Clinton and Pope John Paul II for the support they had given to African democratic reformers during their visits to the continent, but called for a change in Western attitudes toward Africa. In an editorial Monday, it criticized Canada and the United States for paring down foreign aid at a time when poverty was growing in the sub-Saharan region. It said Northern markets were often closed to African goods, and investment in Africa was frequently skewed to benefit the few at the expense of the many. "These are attitudes and practices that must change, if we want the peoples of Africa to regard us as partners, not hypocrites," it concluded.

The Daily Nation of Nairobi, Kenya, published a reader's letter saying that President Clinton's apology for slavery was "too late" and "only rubs salt into wounds." It demanded reparations, although "[n]o amount of compensation will reverse the historical injustice by the West." Another letter in the same newspaper said Clinton deserved "a pat on the back" for his visit to Africa, which, it explained, ought to help "refocus world opinion, and especially that of corporate America, on Africa as a paradise for investment."

The independent Post Express of Nigeria said in an editorial that the "international symbolism" of the American presidency had never been greater than today. "If this has been the American Century, it has never seemed more American than in its final decade. When Clinton goes abroad, he does so as the leader of a nation unrivaled in its prosperity, technology, military might and cultural influence. ... It will not inoculate him from the problems that await his return to Washington, but at a moment of peril in his administration Clinton is enjoying the radiance of the nation he represents."

According to a report in South Africa's Cape Times, members of the "Americans" gang in the poor Cape Town ghetto of Hanover Park said they wished Bill Clinton had visited them last week, because he would have seen that life in Los Angeles was "the same as life here." Their emblem is the American flag, and they regard Clinton as the "godfather." "That flag means a lot of sacrifice," one of them said. "It means that you are prepared to take and carry an illegal gun. ... You must be prepared to break your mother's heart."

The Daily Telegraph of London, in a report from Washington by Hugo Gurdon and right-wing conspiracy theorist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, gave front-page prominence to allegations in the Paula Jones case that President Clinton raped nursing-home administrator Juanita Broaddrick in a hotel room in Little Rock, Ark., when he was the state's attorney general 20 years ago.

The paper printed a letter Monday from exiled King Kigeli V of Rwanda, who wrote from Falls Church, Va., that Clinton "must accept primary responsibility" for the world's inaction in the face of the genocide in his country. Referring to the president's promise of $30 million to help bring the guilty to trial, the king said that this might help salve Clinton's conscience but that "my people need, and deserve, more than this if they are to rebuild their lives, which would not have been shattered had he acted sooner."

In Argentina, the Buenos Aires Herald blamed the Arkansas schoolyard massacre on the proliferation of firearms in the United States and said in an editorial that Argentine citizens were also rapidly arming themselves as a reaction to a surging crime rate. "Yet massively buying weapons in self-defence only leads to a dangerous escalation of violence," it said.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in an interview Monday with the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "very intelligent and young" and understood international situations. "He is a man fully capable of surprising us in a positive way," Annan said.