South African Protesters View Obama as a “disappointment”

Protesters protest the visit of President Barack Obama in Pretoria Friday. One said he viewed Obama as a "disappointment" and thought Nelson Mandela would too.

Protesters protest the visit of President Barack Obama in Pretoria Friday. One said he viewed Obama as a “disappointment” and thought Nelson Mandela would too.

By Ian Johnston, Staff Writer, NBC News

About 200 protesters gathered near the hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated on Friday to protest Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa.

President Obama is heading to South Africa from Senegal as part of his African tour, where Nelson Mandela’s daughter says he might visit Mandela if doctors approve. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

It was unclear whether Obama will visit Mandela, but ahead of his arrival Friday he described the ailing anti-apartheid icon as his “personal hero.”

About 200 trade unionists, student activists and South African Communist Party members held a demonstration in Pretoria over what they called the U.S. president’s “arrogant, selfish and oppressive” foreign policy.

“We had expectations of America’s first black president. Knowing Africa’s history, we expected more,” Khomotso Makola, a 19-year-old law student, told Reuters. He said Obama was a “disappointment, I think Mandela too would be disappointed and feel let down.”

South African critics of Obama have focused in particular on his support for U.S. drone strikes overseas, which they say have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, and his failure to deliver on a pledge to close the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba housing terrorism suspects.

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