Leaders electrified. Echoing the message of change and hope which were his campaign theme, an electrified world yesterday regaled in Barack Obama’s victory in the United States’ presidential election with President Umaru Yar’Adua joining other world leaders in hailing the historic election that saw the Democratic flag bearer emerge the first African American president-elect of the world’s most powerful country.
Obama’s election unleashed a renewed love for the United States after years of dwindling goodwill, and many said yesterday that U.S. voters had blazed a trail that minorities elsewhere could follow.
People across Africa stayed up all night or woke before dawn to watch U.S. history being made, while the President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya — where Obama’s father was born — declared today a public holiday.
In Indonesia, where Obama lived as child, hundreds of students at his former elementary school erupted in cheers when he was declared winner and poured into the courtyard where they hugged each other, danced in the rain and chanted “Obama! Obama!”
“Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place,” South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, said in a letter of congratulations to Obama.
President Yar’Adua yesterday said the election of Obama, the first African-American to be elected President of the United States, is a victory over all human prejudices.
Speaking during the inauguration of 11 permanent secretaries at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Yar’Adua said “the election of Barack Obama as President-elect has finally broken the greatest barrier of prejudice in human history.”
“And I believe for us here in Nigeria, we have lessons to draw from this historic event. Prejudices arise from various differences in tribe, zones and regions. Actually, we should examine ourselves in the light of this experience and conduct ourselves purely as Nigerians to serve Nigeria and to serve humanity,” he stated further.
Yar’Adua said “when we find ourselves in a position of responsibility, when we take decisions we should take decisions as Nigerians in the best interest of the country and not try to bring about issues of where I come from or which area I come from or which tribe I come from. That is the old world, that is the old era. Its coffin has been nailed throughout the world and we have entered a new era.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Obama’s victory “has raised enormous hope” in Europe while UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed Mr Obama’s “vision for the future”.
On her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the result was “historic”, while the European Commission president called for “a new deal for a new world”.
Moscow said it was expecting a “fresh approach” in US relations with Russia.
“France and Europe... will find a new energy to work with America to preserve peace and world prosperity,” the French leader acted.
In London, Brown said: “The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is vital to our prosperity and security.
“Barack Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energising politics with his progressive values and his vision for the future.”
Merkel said that the German government was “fully aware of the importance and of the worth of our transatlantic partnership”.
Similarly, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the world now needed the EU and US to forge “a new deal” to tackle the continuing global financial crisis and other major issues.
“We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world,” Barroso said.
In Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said “everyone has the right to expect a fresh approach from the United States to all the most important problems, including... relations with Russia”.
Leaders across the Middle East have congratulated Obama and given him a cautious welcome on his election as the next US president.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said her country had been impressed by Mr Obama’s “commitment to the peace and security of Israel”, while outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the US-Israeli “special relationship” would be “strengthened” under Obama.
Israeli President Shimon Peres wrote to Obama saying: “Dear Mr President, The world needs a great leader. It is in your making. It is in our prayers. God bless you.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas expressed hope that Obama would help “speed up efforts to achieve peace”, while one of his advisers called on him to “stay the course” on current US-brokered peace talks.
A spokesman for the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, said Obama “must learn from the mistakes of the previous administrations” and improve global ties rather than “wave the big American stick”.
In Iraq, a senior political adviser to the Iraqi prime minister described Obama’s rise to become the first African-American US president as “an unprecedented example of democracy”.
In Iran, Gholamali Haddad Adel, a senior advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the US needed to change its policies “to get rid of the quagmire made by President Bush”.
Another aide to Ayatollah Khamenei said there was “capacity for the improvement” of US-Iranian ties, “if Obama pursues his campaign promises”.
Governments in South Asia have given a warm reaction to Obama’s victory in the US presidential election.
Indian PM Manmohan Singh congratulated the US president-elect on his “extraordinary” triumph and said that ties would grow even stronger.
Pakistan’s PM also congratulated Obama, saying he hoped the Democrat would promote “peace and stability”.
In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai applauded the American people “for their great decision”.
Singh said Barack Obama’s extraordinary journey to the White House would inspire people around the world.
He asked him to visit India at the earliest opportunity.
The main opposition BJP also welcomed Mr Obama’s victory, as did separatist leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir. They said they hoped that he would live up to a pre-election pledge to resolve the long-running regional dispute.
Afghan President Karzai appealed to Obama to prevent civilian casualties, after it emerged that a number of villagers had been killed in a US air strike in the southern province of Kandahar.
But he added: “I hope that this new administration in the United States of America, and the fact of the massive show of concern for human beings and lack of interest in race and colour while electing the president, will go a long way in bringing the same values to the rest of world sooner or later.”
World celebrates Obama's victory