Obama to speak on personal relationship with Kenya

2015-07-26 09:54
US President Barack Obama and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta shake hands in Nairobi.  (Evan Vucci, AP)

US President Barack Obama and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta shake hands in Nairobi. (Evan Vucci, AP)

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Nairobi - US President Barack Obama will on Sunday give a public speech to Kenyans expected to focus on his personal relationship with his father's home country.

"The people couldn't have been warmer and kinder," Obama already said on Saturday during a meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The first day of Obama's four-day state visit to Kenya and Ethiopia was filled with political meetings to address terrorism, economic recovery and human rights.

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

Obama said he wanted to be in the region "because Africa is [economically] on the move," but he also criticised Kenya for discrimination against homosexuals and endemic corruption.

Corruption "may be the biggest impediment to Kenya growing even faster and Kenyans having even more opportunity," the president warned. "It's going to require some visible prosecutions."

Obama's criticism on the lack of gay rights in Kenya, where homosexuality is outlawed, was however immediately rebuffed by Kenyatta, who said "the issue of gay rights is really a non issue."

The two presidents also discussed regional security. Obama said the United States expects to see "good outcomes" in fighting Islamist terrorist threats, noting that what happens in Africa affects the world.

The US and Kenya will increase their focus on sharing intelligence and identifying threats before they happen, Obama said.

Saturday's talks were expected to relaunch the bilateral relationship with Kenya after Washington was widely understood to have opposed the candidacy of Kenyatta in 2013 because of the charges at the International Criminal Court he was facing over 2007 post-election violence.

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

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:    uhuru kenyatta  |  barack obama  |  kenya  |  east africa

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