Foreign Policy Blogs

(Non-World Cup) Africa News

With the beginning of the 2010 World Cup last Thursday in Johannesburg, a large amount of attention has been focused on the quadrennial tournament, which is being hosted on the African continent for the first time since the tournament’s founding in 1930. However, there have been some other stories relating to Africa and U.S. foreign policy there over the past few days.

Of particular note, yesterday, five people were killed and more than 70 were injured after two explosions went off at a political rally in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park. Last April, the Kenyan government passed the proposed new constitution, and it will be put to a yes-or-no referendum this August. The rally, organized by church leaders, was in protest of this new constitution.

In addition to prompting rallies and violence in Kenya itself, the new constitution has actually caused some controversy in the United States as well. On the one hand, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger has spoken favorably of the new consitution, saying:

“The Government of the United States welcomes Parliament’s overwhelming approval of Kenya’s harmonized draft constitution. The strong statements made by the President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga urging support of the draft constitution are particularly encouraging.”

However, statements like this have prompted concern on the part of some American conservatives, who believe the new constitution would “enshrine a new constitutional right to abortion” and “dramatically change Kenya’s abortion law.” House Representatives Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have been particularly keen to voice opposition to any U.S. support for the new Kenyan constitution, arguing that any endorsement would violate the Siljander Amendment, which prohibits foreign aid from being used to lobby for or against abortion.



Alexandra Raphel

Alexandra Raphel recently returned from the hot and sandy Gulf State of Qatar, where she worked for the Brookings Doha Center, a project of the Brookings Institution. Prior to moving to Doha, she interned for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings in Washington. Alexandra has also worked for the Iraq Study Group, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She survived four winters at the University of Chicago, where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science. She now works for a global international development firm based in Washington, D.C. and enjoys football (watching, not playing), perusing art museums, and learning to ride her bike.