US President Barack Obama has praised Senegal as a model of democracy during a joint press conference with President Macky Sall in Dakar. Obama’s next stop is South Africa, where ex-leader Nelson Mandela is gravely ill.
US President Barack Obama praised Senegal as a model of democracy on Thursday during a joint press conference with President Sall, calling the country an example of good governance in Africa.
"Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa and one of the strongest partners that we have in the region," Obama said outside the presidential palace.
"It is moving in the right direction, with reforms to deepen democratic institutions. I believe Senegal can be a great example," he said.
Obama also noted that Senegal had never suffered a military coup, and there have been free and fair elections. Washington has been eager to highlight Muslim-majority Senegal as an example of good governance in an area of Africa beset by the threat of Islamic extremism, especially in neighboring Mali.
Senegal is Obama's first stop on a week-long continental tour. He is due to travel on to South Africa on Friday, however his plans could change if the country's former president, Nelson Mandela, dies, as he is presently gravely ill in hospital.
In his address Obama called Mandela a "hero of the world."
"He is a personal hero. I think he is a hero for the world, and if and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages," he said.
During his speech, Obama also hailed the US Supreme Court's landmark ruling Wednesday on same sex marriage as a "victory for American democracy," and he urged African nations to pass laws that did not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In Senegal, homosexuality is outlawed.
hc/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)