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Obama: Kenyans and Americans can build on visit to bring peace


Obama: Kenyans and Americans can build on visit to bring peace

Barack Obama was treated to a state banquet hosted by Kenya’s President Kenyatta in Nairobi on Saturday night.

The US president has said Washington is ready for closer cooperation in the battle against terrorism and to improve healthcare.

Differences on gay rights – homosexuality is illegal in Kenya – were put aside as Obama focused on improved relations with his father’s homeland.

“So here tonight, and across the United States, Kenyans and Americans are coming together. We are understanding each other better, we are finding new ways to partner and I believe that if we can build on what we accomplished on this visit, then we can achieve even more in the years to come, for our people, for our beautiful lands, for our freedom, for peace,” the American president said.

Security has been high on the agenda during Obama’s visit; Kenya has suffered a spate of attacks by al Shabaab militants.

On gay rights, the US president said earlier on Saturday that discrimination against people for their sexual orientation eroded freedom.

“There are some things that we must admit we don’t share – our culture, our societies don’t accept,” President Kenyatta replied.

Obama has also called for corruption to be tackled to boost business in Africa.

Addressing the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, he said Africa was “on the move”, but corruption “may be the biggest impediment to Kenya growing faster”.

Like Kenya’s economy, that of Ethiopia where the president heads next on Sunday is also growing fast – though critics say political freedom has suffered.

“I think it’s a plus, first, being visited by the the first sitting American government would enhance the confidence and aspirations in Ethiopians, that’s what you feel when you move around,” said Redwan Hussein, Head of the Ethiopian Government Communication Office

Much focus will be on trade ties but the issue of political freedom could be raised. An opposition leader said he hoped the Americans would put pressure on what he called Ethiopia’s “dictatorial regime”.