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Obama Visit Recognizes Critical Role of Democracy in Development
Barack Obama will make his first stop in Sub-Saharan Africa as U.S. president when he arrives tomorrow in Ghana, one of only 10 countries that Freedom House rates as Free in the region. Obama said he chose Ghana to highlight a country that is governed effectively, where leadership is accountable to the people and institutions are stronger than any one person.
“We hope that President Obama uses the occasion of his visit to amplify the administration’s commitment to the support of democracy and human rights as integral to further the region’s progress towards broader economic and social development,” said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director.
Ghanaians have made important strides over the last decade, according to the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's annual survey of political rights and civil liberties. The country is an electoral democracy, having witnessed consecutive elections that were judged credible, including the December 2008 presidential and parliamentary vote. Freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected, as are rights to peaceful assembly and association.
Among the 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, 10 are rated Free, while 23 are rated Partly Free and 15 are rated Not Free. Twelve countries and one territory—about one-fourth of the regional total—experienced setbacks in 2008. Sub-Saharan Africa's declines in freedom last year were second only to that of the former Soviet Union, where fully half of the countries suffered declines. (Download the Map of Freedom: Sub-Saharan Africa.)
The Obama administration has requested a 30% increase in funding to support democracy and human rights in Africa, although this represents just 5% of the total foreign assistance request for Africa.
To learn more about Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa, read:
Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa 2009
Freedom in the World 2009: Ghana
Freedom of the Press 2008: Ghana
Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Ghana since 1972.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.