Obama, Senegalese President ‘disagree’ on same sex marriage
US President Barack Obama and his Senegalese host, President Macky Sall, expressed sharply divergent opinions over same sex marriages, whose legality the US Supreme Court cleared in a landmark ruling this week.
Responding to questions on the the subject addressed to the two leaders at a Thursday press conference at Dakar’s presidential palace, President Sall said that given the prevailing social and traditional beliefs, “our country was not ready to embrace the phenomenon”.
Added the Senegalese leader: “Senegalese are not homophobes but very tolerant and do not believe or practice discrimination of any kind but we are not ready to take on board same sex marriages, at least for this moment.”
President Obama tactfully responded that the issue of same sex marriage was the prerogative of individuals and countries.
However, the US leader expressed satisfaction over the democratic and economic dividends portrayed by many African countries over the last decade.
But he said the onus was on African leaders for a change of paradigm in bilateral cooperation in order to win the confidence of international partners and begin to benefit from equal treatment with other governments.
He also expressed confidence in the capability of African youths and revealed plans to further strengthen their engagement in promoting the development strides of their countries.
President Obama insisted that African countries needed to increase trade agreements, encourage investment in agriculture, maximise production and aim at diversified exports.
This done, he said Africa will be on the right path to overcoming unemployment which he said was the main setback to the development of many countries.
The American leader said his choice of Senegal to begin his tour was because the country was the most stable in the West African region and also because “it is our strongest partner in this region”.
He lauded Senegal for deploying upwards of 5,000 soldiers in peacekeeping missions across the continent and pledged to strengthen America’s military cooperation with Dakar.
President Obama then challenged African leaders to work hard in protecting and guaranteeing citizens rights which he said was fundamental in building a strong democratic system.
Both presidents expressed sadness over Nelson Mandela’s illness with President Sall saying he would have wished for ‘Madiba’ to attain his centenary.
At the end of the press conference, the two leaders headed for the Dakar Supreme Court for a working session with 12 Supreme Court presidents from Africa, before heading for the popular slave island of Gorée, four miles off Dakar.
The American president arrived Wednesday night in Dakar on the first leg of his three-nation tour African that will also take him to South Africa and Tanzania.-africareview.com