Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> State -> Africa

The Promise: "As president, Obama will take immediate steps to end the genocide in Darfur..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Secure America and Restore Our Standing," undated.
Status:Early in his presidency, President Obama named Major General (Ret.) J. Scott Gration as his special envoy to Sudan on 03/18/09. On 06/17/09 Gration told reporters in Washington that the Government of Sudan was no longer engaged in a campaign of mass murder in Darfur. The Obama Administration's Special Envoy therefore appeared to be in denial on the realities of the ongoing Darfur genocide.

Months later on 10/19/09, President Obama referred to the situation in Darfur as "genocide," acknowledging that "hundreds of thousands of people" had been killed in Darfur and "millions more displaced."

As the South completed its 01/11 referendum on self-determination and independence from the North/Khartoum government and moved ahead to become the world's newest country (South Sudan) on 07/09/11, the Obama Administration appeared to focus only on the North-South secession challenge over the continuing lack of a meaningful cease fire in the Western Sudanese region of Darfur.

President Obama appointed Princeton Lyman as Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan on 03/31/11 to replace Gration. Under Lyman's watch, the "Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD)," was signed in 07/11 between the Government of Sudan and the Darfuri rebel groups to end their conflict that was the root cause of the genocide. Insignificant progress was made after the document was signed to resolve the Darfur situation because of lack of implementation and enforcement.

In fact, mass murders in Darfur are known to have continued through the end of President Obama's two terms in office, although on a lesser scale than in previous years. For example, In 09/16, the Sudanese government reportedly launched chemical weapon attacks on civilian populations in Darfur, killing at least 250 people, mostly children. By end-CY2016, about 600K people were known to have been killed in Darfur and nearly 3M displaced.

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will hold the government in Khartoum accountable for abiding by its commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Accord that ended the 30 year conflict between the north and south."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan "To Secure America and Restore our Standing," undated.
Status:The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on 01/09/05 by the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), based in Juba (south), and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum (north). Among its provisions: withdrawal of northern troops from the south, national elections, a census, the sharing of southern oil revenues with the north, power-sharing, and it set a timetable for a referendum on independence for southern Sudan. The CPA expired on 07/07/11, the date South Sudan became an independent nation.

Through the years, U.S.-Sudan relations have been strained. After a six-year closure, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum reopened in CY2002 with a Charge d'Affaires as the senior U.S. diplomat, not an Ambassador, a situation that exists to the present day. Compounding this situation, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued two warrants for the arrest of the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as for being a criminally responsible suspect and an indirect co-perpetrator. As of end-CY2016, President Bashir remained at large, traveling with impunity to countries that do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC with regard to its warrants against Bashir.

Despite the best efforts of Special Envoy Jonathan S. Gration and others, the CPA is believed to have failed in its over-arching goals of reconciliation between the north and south and national unity. The following CPA objectives also failed by the time it expired in 07/11:
- Setting aside 30% of the Sudanese civil service for southerners;
- Introduction legislation to reform land ownership;
- Settlement of boundary disputes along the oil-rich Abyei region;
- Demobilization of soldiers and termination of support for proxy militias;
- Investment in chronically impoverished rural areas for roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure;
- Involvement of international community with regard to CPA implementation.

Faced with the above failures, there was no accountability by the Khartoum Government led by fugitive President Bashir who, it seems, simply disregarded President Obama's overtures as well as the terms of the CPA.

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...In order to increase the incomes of subsistence producers, decrease the pressure on shrinking arable lands, and minimize the vulnerability of commodity exports to global price shocks, an Obama administration will launch the AVTA Initiative..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Strengthening Our Common Security by Investing in Our Common Humanity," dated 09/11/08.
Status:See related Promise ST-2.

The intent of this Add Value to Agriculture (AVTA) Initiative promise was to spur research and innovation aimed at bringing about a Green Revolution in Africa by partnering with land grant institutions, private philanthropies and business to support agricultural processing through increased investment in research and development for improved seeds, irrigation methods, and affordable and safe fertilizers. The initiative would also address food security issues in order to alleviate high food costs.

Under President Obama, according to public domain Congressional Research Service Report R41072, appropriations for all international food aid programs was as follow:
FY2014....$440M (requested)

The trend is self-explanatory. Although President Obama continued previous Administration programs to alleviate global hunger, programs that have existed since the Eisenhower Administration (1954), he very specifically promised to establish AVTA. As of the end of his second term in office, he had not established a specific AVTA Initiative.

This promise was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will launch the Global Energy and Environment Initiative to ensure African countries have access to low carbon energy technology and can profitably participate in the new global carbon market so as to ensure solid economic development even while the world dramatically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Secure America and Restore our Standing," undated.
Status:As of end-CY2016 the Obama Administration had not launched an Africa-focused Global Energy and Environment Initiative (GEEI).

Educational institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have their own energy and environment programs that could have served as launching pads for the promised program. However, President Obama promised that his Administration would launch a GEEI specifically focused on the sharing of energy technology in support of economic development with certain African countries. This did not happen.

Also problematic in this promise is Obama's statement that the world is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. While this is true for many countries, more than half of the estimated 7B tons of coal burned annually is burned in China alone. To meet its increasing demands during the Obama Administration, China stepped up its annual importation of more than 150M tons of coal from the USA (mainly from Wyoming and Montana) and Australia. This renders questionable the concept that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is an effective global priority.

This promise with regard to the establishment of an Africa-specific GEEI was not fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will also strengthen the African Growth and Opportunity Act to ensure that African producers can access the U.S. market and will encourage more American companies to invest on the continent."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Secure America and Restore our Standing," undated.
Status:The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law (P.L. 106-200) by President Clinton on 05/18/00.

To strengthen this Act, "AGOA II" and "AGOA III" were signed by President Bush in CY2002 and CY2004 respectively. On 12/20/06, President Bush also signed the Africa Investment Incentive Act further amending portions of the AGOA and is known as "AGOA IV."

President Obama signed into law an amendment to the AGOA on 08/10/12 (H.R. 5986). This amendment extended the Third-Country Fabric Program to CY2015 to allow eligible African countries to import fabrics, to transform those fabrics into purchasable items, and export those items to the United States. This amendment did not "strengthen" the AGOA, but would have severely weakened it had President Obama not signed H.R. 5986 into law.

With its original 15-year period of validity expiring in CY2015, the AGOA was extended by President Obama on 06/29/15 for an additional 10 years through CY2025 under the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (S. 1267). Amendments and additional clauses pertinent to the AGOA and included in this law served to strengthen it.

This promise was fulfilled.