A proposed protest against African leaders attending the Summit with US President Barack Obama failed to catch a spark, as it appeared to suffer from a seeming lack of organization. The few protestors who made it to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington DC however put across their message in no uncertain terms.
The media had been alerted on an intended protest to greet the leaders of African countries as they arrived at the Summit venue to confer with President Obama. On arrival however, they were met by a rather small group of Africans from different countries protesting a number of different issues. This group was situated far from the actual event venue, amidst a very strict security layout, and thus positioned in a spot where they were hardly likely to be heard as the leaders drove past. They however went ahead to put their message across.
Among the protestors were nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo who were demanding the removal of President Joseph Kabila who they blamed for the insecurity in the country. “He has got blood on his hands. Why is he here?” said one of the protestors.
Also conspicuous among the small crowd was a group of Burkinabe nationals calling for the deposition of President Blaise Kampoare. They said they were calling on President Obama to impress upon him to withdraw a bill he is planning to introduce which will allow him to run for another term. “Kampoare is bad news for our country. He must not be allowed to stay in power”, a Burkinabe national told Sahara Reporters.
There were also small pockets of other nationals from countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Even though the group seemed to be protesting different issues pertaining mostly to their respective countries, they were all united in chanting “Africa is not for sale”, “Obama, shame on you”.
Joe, a Congolese organizer, told the press that they are aware of the United States’ intention in convening such a summit. “It is not an African summit; it is a US summit. Why should all our leaders be called here, to do what? Of course to be told what to do by America”, he said.
There are other protests scheduled to take place against different African leaders as the summit begins to wind down. It is expected that with a less stringent security situation, protestors may still get the chance to confront their leaders before they emplane back to their respective countries.