Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Kenya lockdown as Obama comes to talk security, trade

24 July 2015, 18:49

Nairobi - US President Barack Obama arrives in his ancestral homeland Kenya late Friday, with a massive security operation under way to protect him from Al-Qaeda-linked Somali militants.

Obama, making his first visit as president to his father's birthplace, will address an entrepreneurship summit and hold talks on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism, and democracy and human rights.

"Despite its many challenges... Africa is a place of incredible dynamism, some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, extraordinary people, extraordinary resilience," Obama said in Washington late Wednesday.

"The opportunities are extraordinary, and we just have to break down the stereotypes and the barriers."

Parts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi will be locked down and airspace closed during the president's arrival late Friday and his departure late Sunday, when he travels up the Rift Valley to neighbouring Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union.

At least 10,000 police officers -- roughly one quarter of the entire national force -- will be deployed to the capital.

Top of the list of security concerns is Somalia's Shebab militia, which has staged a string of suicide attacks, massacres and bombings on Kenyan soil, including the bloody attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the heart of the capital nearly two years ago that left 67 dead.

Excitement has been building in Kenya for weeks, with the visit painted as a major boost for the country's position as an African hub -- something that has taken a battering in recent years due to Shebab attacks and political violence that landed Kenyan leaders in the International Criminal Court.

"I need not tell you how eagerly we have all waited for the day, or how keen we all are to make it the most memorable of homecomings," Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told reporters this week.

"It's a vote of confidence for our city and our country," Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero also told AFP.

He has overseen a clean-up campaign in Nairobi, including the filling of potholes, sweeping of streets, the repainting of faded road markings and laying new pavements on once muddy sidewalks.

Obama is celebrated as a hero throughout the country, yet many Kenyans have been disappointed it has taken him until almost the end of his second term in office to make the trip.

A presidential visit to Kenya had been put on ice while Kenyatta faced charges of crimes against humanity for his role in 2007-2008 post-election violence. The ICC has since dropped the case, citing a lack of evidence and accusing Kenya of bribing or intimidating witnesses.

Kenyatta, however, has signalled that his controversial Deputy President William Ruto -- who is still on trial at the ICC and is outspokenly homophobic, describing gays as "dirty" -- would be present when government officials meet Obama.

Asked whether gay rights would be discussed, Kenyatta said: "That is a non-issue to the people of this country, and it is definitely not on our agenda at all."

"The fight against terror will be central, we have been working in very close cooperation with American agencies," Kenyatta said. "Poverty, improved health for our people, better education, better roads, better security, these are our key focuses."

Counter-terrorism will also be a key topic for discussion, with Nairobi the scene of one of Al-Qaeda's twin 1998 US embassy bombings.

Obama is due to address an international business summit in Nairobi on Saturday, an event the US embassy itself warned could be "a target for terrorists".

"The American president is a high-value target so an attack, or even an attempt, would raise the profile of Shebab," warned Richard Tutah, a Nairobi-based security and terrorism expert.

Mitigating that is an overwhelming security presence in the capital, which regional security analyst Abdullahi Halakhe described as "suffocating".

Hundreds of American security personnel have arrived in Kenya in recent weeks.

In a press conference in Washington this month Obama bemoaned the heavy security restrictions.

"I will be honest with you, visiting Kenya as a private citizen is probably more meaningful to me than visiting as president, because I can actually get outside of the hotel room or a conference centre," Obama said.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Leave ODM if you are unhappy, Rai...

Leave ODM if you are not happy, Raila Odinga tells Senator. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
DP Ruto intervenes as Kerio Valle...

DP William Ruto will visit Kerio Valley to try solve never-ending clashes between local residents. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Prepare for DP Ruto fight in 2022...

An MP has warned that the Kalenjin Community will not stand back and watch as DP Ruto is duped ahead of the 2022 polls. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be careful who you deal with, DP ...

Watch out for your political future, DP William Ruto has been warned. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Kikuyu 2022 vote will go to Peter...

The 2022 Kikuyu vote will go to Peter Kenneth, a Rift Valley Governor has warned DP William Ruto. Read more...