By Al Jazeera
Barack Obama is co-hosting a summit on global entrepreneurship with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, on the first working day of the US leader’s trip to East Africa.
The two presidents spoke back-to-back at the opening of Saturday’s conference, aimed at promoting businesses that promise to lift many more Africans out of poverty and help insulate societies against radicalisation.
Obama landed in the Kenyan capital on Friday. Throngs of Kenyans lined the route of his convoy, cheering, whistling and waving as the motorcade passed by and a helicopter circled overhead.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Nairobi, said there was “overwhelming euphoria” when Obama arrived, adding that the US president is the “most popular” politician in Kenya.
At least 10,000 police officers, roughly a quarter of the entire national force, have been deployed in the capital.
The landmark visit to his father’s birthplace is Obama’s first as president, and is also the first time a sitting US president will visit Ethiopia and the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The first African-American president of the US is expected to address regional security issues and trade, and also touch on matters relating to democracy, poverty, and human rights in the region.
A previous planned trip to Kenya was delayed by Kenyatta’s indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Those charges were suspended last year – in part, prosecutors say, because the Kenyan government thwarted the investigation.
Obama’s trip has also come under fire by rights groups, and more than 50 African and global human rights organisations have called on him to publicly meet democracy activists on the ground.
They voiced concerns about “grave and worsening” rights challenges in both Kenya and Ethiopia.
The charges against Kenyatta, and the fact that Ethiopia’s government won 100 percent of parliamentary seats in a recent disputed election, has raised questions about whether Obama should have made the trip at all.
In Addis Ababa, Obama is expected to address leaders of the African Union.
He spent Friday evening reuniting with about three dozens of Kenyan family members.
Obama has said he had “never truly known” his father, who was born in Kenya’s far west, in Kogelo village near the shores of Lake Victoria.
An economist, he walked out when Obama was just two and died in a car crash in Nairobi in 1982, aged 46.
Obama has previously made personal visits to Kogelo, the home of many of his Kenyan relatives, most recently in 2006.
Source:: Al Jazeera
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