East Africa

Obama In Kenya On First Presidential Trip

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Kenya has rolled out the red carpet for Barack Obama as he arrived for his first visit as US President to his father’s birthplace.

Air Force One touched down at Nairobi’s international airport on Friday evening local time, marking the start of a weekend visit.

Mr Obama will address an entrepreneurship summit and hold talks on trade, counter-terrorism and democracy.

He is the first sitting president to visit Kenya or Ethiopia, his second stop on the four-day trip.


‘Welcome Obama’, reads the headline on this Nairobi man’s newspaper

Mr Obama last visited Kenya while serving as a US senator in 2006.

Many Kenyans view the trip as a kind of homecoming for the US President.

Mr Obama was embraced on the tarmac on Friday at Kenyatta International Airport by his half-sister, Auma Obama.

He then went to a hotel for dinner with more members of his extended family, including his step-grandmother, Mama Sarah.

But he is not expected to visit the community in western Kenya where his father was born and is buried.

In Nairobi, Mr Obama will pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the 1998 US embassy bombing and give a speech on Sunday.

He will also dine with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Those charges were dropped in March, but the case prevented Mr Obama from going to Kenya.

Activists have raised concerns in a letter to Mr Obama about his trip to East Africa because of alleged human rights violations.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the US President wouldn’t hesitate to raise such concerns on the trip.

Mr Obama has chided African countries over gay rights.

But Kenya’s president has said it is a “non-issue” that won’t be on the agenda for the visit.

In the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Mr Obama will become the first US president to address the African Union on Tuesday before heading back to Washington.

The US President’s critics say he has done less for Africa than his predecessor, George W Bush, whose Aids relief programme made him a hero on the continent.

But Mr Obama’s advisers point to his own initiatives on electricity, agriculture and trade.

The US President wrote about his Kenyan roots in his best-selling 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father.

Debunked “birther” conspiracy theories once held he was actually born there, and ineligible to be US President.

Mr Obama showed his Hawaii birth certificate in the White House briefing room in 2011.


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