‘Obama Calls For Gay Rights In Africa And Challenges Kenya Over Corruption’

US President Barack Obama on Saturday called for gay rights in Africa during his landmark visit to Kenya, comparing homophobia to racial discrimination he had encountered in the United States.

Obama arrived in Kenya on Friday, his first visit as president to his father’s birthplace and the first to the East African nation by a serving US leader.

“I’ve been consistent all across Africa on this. When you start treating people differently, because they’re different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode. And bad things happen,” he said at a joint press conference after talks with the Kenyan leader, in response to a question on gay rights.

“As an African-American in the United States I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law.

“I am unequivocal on this,” Obama told a joint news conference, openly disagreeing with Kenyatta.

He said that the notion “a law-abiding citizen… will be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong, full stop.”

Homophobia is on the rise in Africa, and Kenyatta repeated the view that gay rights were “a non-issue.”

“There are some things that we must admit we don’t share. It’s very difficult for us to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.

“This is why I say for Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” Kenyatta said.

A presidential visit to Kenya had been delayed while Kenyatta faced charges of crimes against humanity for his role in post-election violence seven years ago.

The International Criminal Court has since dropped the case, citing a lack of evidence and accusing Kenya of bribing or intimidating witnesses.

‘Get tough on corruption’

Vice President William Ruto, whose ICC trial continues, is also an unapologetic homophobe and has in the past described gays as “dirty”. Obama nevertheless shook his hand on arrival at State House.

Obama also had firm words for Kenya on civil rights and corruption, describing endemic graft as “the single biggest impediment to Kenya growing even faster,” and saying people were being “consistently sapped by corruption at a high level and at a low level.”

Obama said there was a need for “visible prosecutions,” to show citizens action was being taken.

“They don’t have to be a forensic accountant to know what is going on,” Obama said, giving the example of officials driving around in expensive cars or building houses far above what their salaries would allow.

The two leaders also pledged greater cooperation against the Somalia’s Shebab, who have also been at the top of the list of security concerns during the visit.

Nairobi has witnessed massive security operations involving at least 10,000 police officers, with parts of the usually traffic-clogged capital locked down until Obama’s scheduled departure late Sunday for neighbouring Ethiopia.

Despite the areas of disagreement, the president said he was delighted to be back and praised Africa’s entrepreneurship at a business summit earlier Saturday.

“It is wonderful to be back in Kenya,” Obama said, greeting the summit with a few words of Swahili. “Obviously this is personal for me. My father came from these parts.”

Barack Obama Sr was a pipe-smoking economist who the US leader has admitted he “never truly” knew. He walked out when Obama was just two and died in a car crash in Nairobi in 1982, aged 46. Obama still has extended family in western Kenya, whom he dined with on Friday evening.

“I wanted to be here, because Africa is on the move, Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world,” he said, drawing cheers and applause from delegates.

“People are being lifted out of poverty, incomes are up, the middle class is growing and young people like you are harnessing technology to change the way Africa is doing business.” source-newzimbabwe

 

Obama Having Dinner With His Kenyan Extended family Members In Nairobi Hotel

Dinner

Photo-Family meal … Obama had dinner with members of his extended family at Nairobi hotel 

source-newzimbabwe

Obama Welcomed By Step Sister ‘Auma Obama’ To Kenya,

Step sis

US President Barack Obama has arrived in Kenya – his father’s homeland – on a trip that will also include a stop in the Ethiopian capital, and a visit to the home of the African Union.

Obama landed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday and was welcomed at the airport by the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. He later dined with his step grandmother, his sister and other extended family members.

At least 10,000 police officers, roughly a quarter of the entire national force, have been deployed in the capital Nairobi.

Once at his hotel, the president sat down with the woman he calls “Granny,” also called “Mama Sarah,” who helped raise his now deceased father as a child.

Obama’s half-sister Auma Obama and a few dozen other extended family members related were also present.

Wearing a suit and tie, the US leader chatted amiably with the large family seated at long tables at a restaurant inside the hotel where he is staying.

Obama’s family connection to Kenya has cast a trip that is otherwise likely to focus on trade and counterterrorism issues in a personal light. He is not expected to travel to the village where his father is buried.

Obama has said he had “never truly known” his father, who was born in Kenya’s far west, in a village near the equator and 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.

Meanwhile, parts of the Kenyan capital have been locked down and airspace was closed during the president’s arrival, leaving some of the roads empty on Friday afternoon, usually the busiest time of the week when streets are jammed with cars.

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 AU’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.

 

Joining him on the trip is National Security Adviser Susan Rice, foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes and White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Before heading off for the trip, Obama’s fourth to Africa since taking office, he spoke about the promise of, and difficulties on, the continent.

“Despite its many challenges – and we have to be clear-eyed about all the challenges that the continent still faces – Africa is a place of incredible dynamism, some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, extraordinary people, extraordinary resilience,” Obama said.

Obama has not yet been to Kenya during his White House tenure, with a previous trip 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.

Democratic deficit

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 trip.

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% of parliamentary seats in a recent disputed election, has raised questions about whether Obama should have made the trip at all.

In Kenya, Obama will attend a Global Entrepreneurship Summit, aimed at promoting businesses that promise to lift many more Africans out of poverty and help insulate societies against radicalisation.

In Addis Ababa, Obama is expected to address leaders of the African Union, remarks that may touch on Africa’s democratic deficit. source-newzimbabwe

photo-Welcome home …. The US president is welcomed by step sister AumaObama on arrival

Obama Attends Private Dinner In Nairobi With Step-grandmother & Kenyan Family

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US President Barack Obama has arrived in Kenya on a trip that will also include a stop in the Ethiopian capital, and a visit to the home of the African Union.

Obama landed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday, and was greeted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta with a handshake and embrace as he stepped off Air Force One.

The president’s half-sister Auma was also on the tarmac to welcome him and travel in the bespoke, bomb-proof presidential limousine, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, for the drive to the hotel in the city centre.

Throngs of Kenyans lined the route of the convoy, cheering, whistling and waving as Obama’s 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 Nairobi.

Parts of the Kenyan capital have been locked down and airspace was closed during the president’s arrival, leaving some of the roads empty on Friday afternoon, usually the busiest time of the week when streets are jammed with cars.

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 AU’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.

Joining him on the trip is National Security Adviser Susan Rice, foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes and White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Before heading off for the trip, Obama’s fourth to Africa since taking office, he spoke about the promise of, and difficulties on, the continent.

“Despite its many challenges – and we have to be clear-eyed about all the challenges that the continent still faces – Africa is a place of incredible dynamism, some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, extraordinary people, extraordinary resilience,” Obama said.

Obama has not yet been to Kenya during his White House tenure, with a previous trip 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.

Democratic deficit

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 trip.

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 Kenya, Obama will attend a Global Entrepreneurship Summit, aimed at promoting businesses that promise to lift many more Africans out of poverty and help insulate societies against radicalisation.

In Addis Ababa, Obama is expected to address leaders of the African Union, remarks that may touch on Africa’s democratic deficit.

There are no official visits scheduled for Obama to see his relatives while in Kenya, officials said.

Al Jazeera’s Simmons said Obama is expected to meet his relatives in the capital, instead of his father’s hometown of Kogelo.

Obama has said he had “never truly known” his father, who was born in Kenya’s far west, in a village near the equator and 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 not yet been to Kenya during his White House tenure, with a previous trip but he  visited Kenya when he was a US senator in 2006 since he was a U.S. senator in 2006. Al jazeera -Source: Agencies

photo-Obama attends a private dinner in Nairobi with his Kenyan family members including his step-grandmother Sarah and half-sister Auma [Reuters]

 

Two Dead And Nine Injured In Louisiana shooting At The Grand Theatre in Lafayette

A gunman has opened fire at a cinema in the US state of Louisiana, killing two people and injuring nine others before shooting himself, officials say. Police said the attacker was a 58-year-old white man armed with a handgun but did not release any further details.

Witnesses said the man opened fire about 20 minutes into a screening of a film at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette.

Hours earlier, US President Barack Obama told the BBC that gun law reform had been his ‘greatest frustration’

Police chief Jim Craft said officers responded to reports of a shooting at about 19:30 local time (00:30 GMT).

Mr Craft said nine people were taken to a local hospital with injuries ranging from critical to non-life-threatening.

The gunman’s identity is known to police, Mr Craft added, but is not being released at this time.

“We don’t know whether it was a random act, whether it was a domestic situation,” Mr Craft said.

The police chief said that the gunman did have a criminal history but that it was “pretty old”.

Dozens of emergency vehicles were dispatched to the scene of the shooting in Lafayette, a city of about 120,000 people.

One witness said she heard a loud bang like a firecracker and saw a man standing up and shooting during screening of the film Trainwreck.

“He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either,” Katie Domingue told a local newspaper, the Advertiser.

About 100 people are thought to have been in the building at the time of the shooting.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who arrived at the scene late on Thursday night, told reporters: “We will get through this. We are a resilient community.”

“This is an awful night for Lafayette. This is an awful night for Louisiana. This is an awful night for the United States,” he added.

US comedian and actress Amy Schumer, who stars in Trainwreck, tweeted: “My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.”

The shooting comes as a jury deliberates the death penalty for a gunman who attacked a cinema in Colorado three years ago.

James Holmes, 27, killed 12 people and wounding 70 others in July 2012 at a screening of a Batman film near Denver. source-BBC news

photo-Witnesses said the shooting began about 20 minutes into a screening of Trainwreck

US President Barrack Obama Due Today In Kenya On His First Presidential Visit

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There is heightened security activity in Kenya ahead of the US President Barrack Obama’s arrival today on his first Presidential visit. Barrack Obama previously visited Kenya his late father’s homeland a village named Kogello which he last visited in 2006 when he was a senator. See photos of a previous visit by Obama as a young man to Kenya to see his step grandmother Mama Sarah Obama who raised his father.

At present, the ancestral village is not on the the Presidential itinerary for a visit but ancestral village is not on the itinerary, but residents, including his step-grandmother, are hoping for a last minute change and roads and buildings have been spruced up in anticipation of such an outcome.

The president’s last visit to his ancestral village was when he was 25 years old. by Sibusiso Ngwenya​. see more at www.newzimbabwevision.com

photo-A then youthful Barrack Obamabwith his step grandmother Mama Sarah Obama

MDC-T Ignores United STates Officials Advice, And Boycotts Marondera Central By Election

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THE MDC-T has stuck to its decision to boycott elections despite criticism of the decision by US officials who warned that “if you are not a part of it (election process) at all, then it is as good as there is no opposition”.

Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party did not field a candidate for the upcoming by-election for Marondera Central constituency set for 19 September.

Four candidates successfully filed nomination papers at Marondera Magistrate Court Monday.

Zanu PF’s Lawrence Katsiru, Wadzanai Mabika of the Lovemore Madhuku-led National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Solomon Makaza of Transform Zimbabwe and Kingdom Nyika of the little known Freedom Front Party had their papers accepted by Mashonaland East Zimbabwe Electoral Commission provincial chief elections officer Collins Munetsi.

“Since more than one candidate has been duly nominated in the Marondera Central constituency, a poll shall take place on Saturday, 19th September 2015,” Munetsi told those gathered who included journalists, some of the candidates and their agents.

The opposition MDC snub paves the way for President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party to win the by-elections given the results of the June 10 by-elections held in 14 constituencies in traditional MDC-T strongholds of Harare and Bulawayo all snapped up by the ruling party.

Katsiru said he was confident of winning the seat that fell vacant following the expulsion of former Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chair Ray Kaukonde on accusations he was part of a group led by ousted vice president Joice Mujuru that was plotting to depose Mugabe.

Meanwhile, it has also been learnt that former Masvingo provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti did not file nomination papers for the Mwenezi East constituency from which he was recalled by Zanu PF.

Bhasikiti was accused of the same offence as Kaukonde but has been fighting to have his case heard in the country’s courts.

His fight has however, been in vain following a Constitutional Court decision last week in which he was ordered to “form your own party” by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.

A US congressman, Gregory Simpkins, a director in the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations, recently criticised Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party’s “no reforms, no elections”  policy.

“We have heard that political parties here argue that it is tough to compete in elections. But we are saying they have to find a way of being effective rather than just saying it is too tough to compete.

“How can you criticize a process that you are not part of, one cannot criticize a process that they have not even taken time to test,” said Simpkins.

He added: “When you test the process, you can say we tried to register our candidates or observers were turned away; you can point to examples.

“If you are not a part of it at all then it is as good as there is no opposition.”

Simpkins was in the country as part of Washington’s efforts to normalise relations with Harare following a decade and half of diplomatic fighting over allegations of human rights abuses levelled against President Robert Mugabe’s government. source-newzimbabwe

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