Obama Cites India to Plug 'Open Government'

Washington, Sep 21 (IANS): Citing the example of Indian villages getting their voices heard with new information technology tools, President Barack Obama has urged emerging and established democracies to make their governments more transparent. The US will also launch a new online tool that will allow Americans to petition the White House directly.

He said the technology will be made available to other governments.

"From Tanzania to Indonesia - and as I saw firsthand during my visit to India - rural villages are organizing and making their voices heard, and getting the public services that they need," he said Tuesday at the United Nations.

"Governments from Brazil to South Africa are putting more information online, helping people hold public officials accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars," Obama said inaugurating an "Open Government Partnership" co-chaired by the US and Brazil.

Eight founding members in the partnership, including Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, the Philippines, have pledged to be more transparent, allow greater citizen participation in government, and increase access to technology.

Obama said the moment is ripe for the initiative, with people across the Middle East and North Africa pushing for their governments to represent and benefit their citizens, and with emerging democracies across the world showing how "innovations in open government" can increase prosperity and justice.

He said an additional 40 countries have begun working toward joining the partnership next year.

The US was also joining a global initiative in which oil, gas and mining companies disclose more information about how much they're paying to extract natural resources.


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