Kenya lockdown as Obama comes to talk security, trade

July 24, 2015 6:50 am


US President  Barack Obama/FILE
US President Barack Obama/FILE
KENYA, Jul 24 – 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.

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