Michelle Obama Heads To Africa

“U.S. first lady Michelle Obama left for Africa on Sunday, embarking on her second official solo journey abroad with a goal of advancing U.S. policies on education, health, and democracy,” Reuters reports. Obama is due to arrive in South Africa on Monday, “where she will make stops in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Later in the week she will visit Botswana,” the news service notes (Mason, 6/20).

Though the trip has been “billed by the White House as an important next step in the administration’s outreach to the continent,” it has “resurrected criticism among a vocal subset of Africa advocates – including President Obama supporters – who say they are disappointed that the first American president with African roots has not personally focused more on the region,” the Washington Post reports.

“Critics cite changes to a HIV/AIDS program advanced during the Bush administration, the relatively limited time Obama has spent on the continent as president and their belief that Africa has become less significant in U.S. foreign policy. … White House officials disagreed, saying that the administration has laid out clear priorities in Africa: supporting democratic regimes, decreasing hunger and developing the $63 billion Global Health Initiative. That program seeks to integrate the Bush administration’s focus on AIDS with a wider approach to public health issues,” the newspaper writes (Thompson, 6/18).