Obama begins 4-day trip to Kenya, Ethiopia

2015-07-24 11:19
Barack Obama. (File: AP)

Barack Obama. (File: AP)

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Washington - US President Barack Obama was on his way to Kenya early on Friday to embark on a four-day state visit to the region to address terrorism, economic recovery and human rights.

It will be Obama's first visit to Kenya and Ethiopia since he became president in 2009, but his fourth visit to the continent.

Obama, security advisors Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes as well as spokesperson Josh Earnest boarded Air Force One at Andrews military airport in Washington DC late on Thursday.

At least 20 senators and political representatives are also accompanying the president.

Obama is expected to land in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, on Friday evening where he will address the Global Entrepreneurs Summit on Saturday. He will also hold talks and attend a state dinner with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Public speech

Obama's visit is expected to re-launch the bilateral relationship after Washington was widely understood to have opposed the candidacy of Kenyatta in 2013 because of the charges he was facing over 2007 post-election violence at the International Criminal Court.

Kenyatta won the election and the charges against him were dropped in December.

On Sunday, Obama will give a public speech to Kenyans, which is expected to focus on his personal relationship with his father's home country.  

About 10 000 police are being deployed in Nairobi, according to local media reports. The US navy is on standby in the Indian Ocean, while the airspace is being heavily monitored by the US military.

Kenya and the US are especially concerned about possible attacks by al-Shabaab, which has targeted Kenya over its military support to the Somali government in its fight against the Islamist group.

Obama will travel to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday night, where he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Monday.

Before his return to the US on Tuesday, Obama is set to meet with civil society representatives and visit the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  uhuru kenyatta  |  barack obama  |  us  |  kenya  |  east africa

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