NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – US President Barack Obama will become the first sitting American President to visit Kenya, come July.
He will attend the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in sub-Saharan Africa between July 24 and 26 in Nairobi and will, according to the US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, also hold bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“His visit will build on the success of the August 2014 US-Africa Leaders Summit and will continue our efforts to work with countries in sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions and improve security,” Godec explained.
The announcement of President Obama’s visit to Kenya, the home country of his father Barack Obama Snr, has elicited mixed reactions with some holding the opinion that it’s long overdue while others see it as testament to Kenya’s strategic importance.
“His visit is welcome because it will show the world that Kenya is safe,” Edwin Ndwiga told Capital FM News.
Susan Nyoike wasn’t convinced however saying that “it won’t add anything to my table.”
It is yet unclear how long Obama will be in the country and whether he will visit with his grandmother Sarah Obama.
It will not be Obama’s first visit to Kenya as he first came to Kenya before joining Harvard to study law; a visit on which his first best-selling book ‘Dreams From My Father’ is based.
He returned as the Illinois Senator in 2006 together with his family and again visited his father’s home town and mother in Siaya. During his 2013 visit as a sitting president to sub-Saharan Africa, Obama was seen by some as snubbing Kenya due to President Kenyatta’s International Criminal Court indictment.
The idea having been informed by former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson’s statement prior to the 2013 general election that, “choices have consequences,” when asked what the US government’s response would be to Kenyans electing as Head of State someone charged for crimes against humanity – Kenyatta’s charges have since been withdrawn for lack of evidence.
A visit by President Obama also comes at a time when President Kenyatta’s government has called on the US and European nations to withdraw travel advisories against Kenya given the improved security situation.
The US has been supporting Kenya’s military interventions against Somali’s Al Shabaab and has executed drone attacks which have taken out members of its leadership.