President Obama has invited  all African leaders who have passed his merit test to travel to Washington next week to consolidate existing cooperation mechanisms like AGOA and chalk out new initiatives on socio economic and political issues before he leaves office in 2016.
The Prime Minister is among the selected leaders. It is a great honour for him and Mauritius. His participation, if judged outstanding at the end of the conference, will give a further boost to the image of our country.
Last week, I had the opportunity to watch a live television programme on a stimulating discussion between President Obama and a group of enthusiastic young African leaders in Washington as a curtain raiser to the Summit. I was immediately thrown back decades ago when I was selected to participate in the Young African Leaders Programme in the United States. What a formidable experience it was for me! So,during the interactive session, President Obama replied to questions on a wide range of issues dealing with the African reality.
I shall dwell only on two of preoccupations of the young African leaders. Questioned about the real commitment of present African leaders to grapple with basic problems like education, health, housing, transport and employment, Obama replied that those issues along with democratic values, rule of law and good governance would definitely be on the agenda of the Summit. He then added something more interesting. He said that African leaders should learn when to leave office after serving for a long period and hand over power smoothly to another democratically elected leader. He chastised those who treat the State as their own property and derive pleasure in bending the rules  to favour their selfish interests. Here, in Mauritius, we are timidly addressing the issue of a maximum of two consecutive mandates for the Prime Minister. Let us hope he will be wiser when he returns from the enlightened meeting.
The second question relates to conflicts. Obama surprised the audience by saying that we were living in times where there were less conflicts. How to interpret this statement? True, the last World War dates back to 1945, but the number of deadly regional wars since then has been on the increase. Everyday the television splashes in front of us horrible pictures of civil, ethnic, religious and other types of conficts  in different parts of the world, namely Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Ukraine. These wars have caused thousands of casualties, displaced big chunks of the population and wiped out the infrastructure. The civilian population bears the brunt. Where are our political and moral leaders? What about the regional and international institutions? How effective or should we say how ineffective are they? The UN Security Council loses its credibility when its own permanent members are involved in armed conflicts. What do we do? Do we continue to criticize or do we put our brains together and propose durable solutions?
  Criticizing Obama on the dramatic conflict in Gaza at a religious function this week before he goes to Washington was not a wise course of action for the Prime Minister. It might be convenient for local politics. He should know that Obama has to face the mighty Jewish lobby in the US and is held under constant check. Furthermore, Obama has to  cope with a hostile Republican controlled Congress which recently did not hesitate to sue him for using his executive authority to raise the minimum wage. Without in anyway trying to defend Obama’s policies, I think that he Prime Minister should be aware that Obama is walking on a tightrope, especially as he moves into the final phase of his presidency.
The best advice we can give to the Prime Minister is to go to Washington with plenty of new and innovative ideas, based on serious thinking and to avoid criticizing his host. Only the brightest ideas and proposals will be retained and applauded.