The world waits for Obama era

January 12th, 2009 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 12 (DPA) The Jan 20 inauguration of Democrat Barack Obama as 44th president of the US promises to open a new era for the country and the world.For Americans, it represents the fall of a final racial barrier - fittingly just weeks before the US celebrates the 200th birth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, the man who ended slavery. Obama’s presidency also represents hope for a country mired in two wars and financial catastrophe and disillusioned with eight years of governance under outgoing President George W. Bush.

But the country’s first black president won’t have it easy, with a Congress that can still stop him and international conflicts ranging from the latest escalation in the Middle East to Iran’s determination to have the nuclear bomb.

For a world which sees the US tarnished by Bush’s go-it-alone attitude, by the controversial Guantanamo prison camp as well as US military abuses against detainees at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Obama has pledged to restore Washington’s international standing through more direct diplomacy and a return to the respect for human rights, which has been one of the nation’s historical hallmarks.

Just as much of the world watched and celebrated November’s presidential election even though they could not vote, so it will be following Obama’s inauguration and presidency with high expectations. Yet Obama has also signalled he expects much of the US allies.

More than one million people are expected to flock to Washington DC for the historic inauguration, which also sees exclusive inaugural balls sponsored by a rich mix of groups ranging from African nations to Hollywood, from black franchise owners of McDonald’s restaurants to traditional military and political galas.

While only a few will be able to attend these, many will be bringing their children for the daytime swearing in, just to look from afar, so they can say they were there when Barack Obama became the president.

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