Obama arrives in Washington

January 5, 2009 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Jan 5 – Barack Obama has arrived in Washington to prepare for his inauguration as US President.

He landed at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside the capital, on board a Boeing 757.

Mr Obama will spend the next two weeks living in a hotel before moving into the White House after being sworn in on January 20.

But his hopes for a smooth transition have been dealt a blow after one of his key appointments stepped down.

Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, has withdrawn from the key post of commerce secretary following a legal inquiry into his business associations.

About 100 well-wishers and two dozen protesters braved the winter chill to greet the President-elect.

A heavy security presence encircled the historic Hay-Adam hotel, near the White House, as police set up barriers.

"He waved! That’s cool! Awesome!" said Keith Slade, 43, who was having a drink at a nearby bar when he caught a glimpse of Mr Obama in the motorcade.

Before Mr Obama left Chicago, he told reporters: "Well guys, I’m looking forward to seeing you guys in Washington … I gotta say I choked up a little bit leaving my house today."

His wife, Michelle, and their daughters arrived on Saturday. The girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven, are to start school at Sidwell Friends.

People gathered on the steps of a church near the hotel to protest at Israel’s military incursion in Gaza.

Some held candles, while others waved Palestinian flags, and raised signs that read: "Obama Call for Ceasefire, Please," and "Not in Our Name."

"Where is Barack Obama’s voice? Has he been muzzled already?" asked protester Medea Benjamin, speaking over a microphone.

"We didn’t expect Bush to speak out but Barack knows better," said Benjamin, of the anti-war group Code Pink.


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