Host Aaron Schachter is joined from London by The World’s Marco Werman to pick apart some of Wednesday’s international reaction to President Obama’s re-election.
They decode some of the messages of congratulations sent to the president by foreign leaders.
Plus, Marco hears how people in Kenya, the country of Obama’s father, are eager for a presidential visit.
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Aaron Schachter: This is The World. I’m Aaron Schachter in Boston.
Marco Werman: And I’m Marco Werman in London.
Schachter : A re-elected President Obama could be forgiven for wanting to kick back and relax a little bit today, but Mr. President, it ain’t gonna happen. Now that the election is over there is no shortage of challenges clamoring for Obama’s attention, many in the foreign policy arena. In a moment, we’ll hear about two policy dilemmas facing the president: Israel and Syria. But first Marco Werman, the congratulations messages for President Obama have been pouring in from leaders around the world.
Werman: Yea that’s right and you know if you read in, there’s a lot of diplomatic code in those messages too, not to mention some really interesting use of language. For instance, Pakistan’s president warmly felicitated the president.
Schachter: And I spotted something a little off-kilter too: Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, sent his message via telegram.
Werman: Yea right, telegram, and maybe next time he’ll use a fax machine.
Schachter: Yea and apparently Putin is going to follow up that telegram with this thing called a telephone call.
Werman: Right, whatever that is. Um I did see that separately Obama’s win lead many officials in Russia to exhale. A spokesman at the Kremlin said Obama’s victory will be beneficial for Russia.
Schachter: And messages from where you are, there in the U.K.?
Werman: Yea, Prime Minister David Cameron sent the president a tweet. It read “Warm congratulations to my friend. Look forward to continuing to work together.”
Schachter: Now, as you say, congratulations coming in from around the world including China. The president there, Hu Jintao, mentioned something called “positive progress” in his message.
Werman: Right and I should also tell you Aaron, that one of the big headlines at the BBC today was made by long time correspondent John Simpson, that Chinese leaders were glad President Obama was re-elected because they think he’s a pushover and easy to manipulate. And one other thing Aaron, and this isn’t as much about congratulations and messages as celebrations. Earlier today I spoke with Emmanuel Igunza. He’s a journalist with BBC Africa. He was in Kogelo, Kenya this morning. It’s Barack Obama’s ancestral home and he told me about the scene there, very early this morning when people learned that Obama had been re-elected.
Emmanuel Igunza: It was really early. People had been staying overnight following the events on live television quietly. But in the early morning when the sun was just coming out and the results were first announced, people just broke up into songs and there were people going out into the streets, very early in the morning I must say, around 7 or 7:30 in Kenyan time. And people were just with their motorcycles, going out and singing songs. And you might know Barack Obama’s grandmother lives in this area. So they also processed from here to her place where they also danced and sung more songs. Praise songs and choirs were also singing here, praising God for what they called a “miracle” that President Barack Obama had gotten a second term.
Werman: How many people live in Kogelo?
Egunza: Probably 20,000 people.
Werman: Now President Obama paid a well-known visit to Kogelo before he was president. He was not focused really on Africa much at all in his first term. How much of the people of Kenya, and of Kogelo specifically, anticipating a visit from President Obama sometime in the next four years?
Emmanuel: People during the first term had anticipated that he will be making a visit here but he never did and people have always been wanting him to come here. But I guess with the second term now the people we’ve been talking to have been a bit cautious about that. They do realize that he’s the U.S. president and not necessarily with any ties with Kenya, but everyone you talk to was saying that they are welcoming their son back, if he as time, he could make a visit here.
Werman: And that was Emmanuel Igunza, a journalist with BBC Africa, speaking with me earlier today.
Schachter: Marco, thank you so much. We’ll see you back here next week in Boston.
Werman: You’re welcome, Aaron.
Schachter: You can find more of Marco’s election coverage from London. We’ve got a special podcast you’ll want to download from theworld.org/elections.
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