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One of the chief criticisms against Jesse Jackson during his runs for President in 1988 and 1992 was his lack of political experience. Now, after years of traveling the globe on his own steam and unofficially representing United States interests abroad, he is set to become official. Jackson was recently appointed special envoy to Africa for the president and secretary of state for the promotion of democracy on that continent.
“Africa and our destiny are amazingly intertwined,” says Jackson. “We need each other. And if we work together with a commitment to shared democratic values, we can be a force for good.”
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says both she and President Clinton will be relying on Jackson’s expertise as Africa becomes an increasingly important global player. “There’s a new tide rising in Africa. While problems of conflict and poverty remain, in many nations difficult reforms are producing economic growth and progress toward democracy,” says Albright.
Jackson says that through the position, which is part time and unsalaried, he hopes to help Clinton strengthen reciprocal trade relationships with African countries. “Most Americans don’t see Africa in that way, so one of my first objectives is to help them appreciate the importance of Africa to America’s growth,” says Jackson.