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Obama renews promise to visit Kenya

01 July 2013, 08:05

Soweto - US President Barack Obama on Saturday renewed his promise to visit Kenya, after bypassing his late father's homeland on his current African tour.

Obama said the "timing was not right" for a trip at this time, but that he still intended to keep his word to go there before he leaves the White House in January 2017.

"I am going to be president for another three and a half years," Obama said at a town hall meeting in Soweto that was broadcast to several African nations, including Kenya.

"If, in three years and seven months, I am not in Kenya, then you can fault me for not following through on my promise," Obama told a young woman speaking from Nairobi, who asked him why he was not going to Kenya.

At a press conference in Pretoria earlier, Obama said that the new government of President Uhuru Kenyatta was finding its feet after an election in March, and "still working out issues with the international community".

He was referring to a looming trial for Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in deadly violence that killed more than 1,000 people after 2007 polls.

"The timing was not right for me as president of the United States to be visiting Kenya when those issues need to be worked on," Obama said.

But the US leader said he had visited Kenya multiple times before he was president and expected to return.

"My personal ties to the people of Kenya, by definition are going to be strong and will stay strong," he said.

Obama's Africa tour started in Senegal, and he is currently in South Africa. He will wrap up his week-long journey in Tanzania.


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