Saturday, July 25, 2015

Obama to press African leaders on rights and corruption

President Obama told the BBC he would deliver a blunt message on gay rights when he travelled to Africa

US President Barack Obama has told the BBC he will continue to deliver his "blunt message" to African leaders about gay rights and discrimination.
"I am not a fan of discrimination and bullying of anybody on the basis of race... religion... sexual orientation or gender," he said.
Mr Obama is on his way to visit his ancestral home of Kenya and he will also go to Ethiopia.
He said the trip showed US commitment to fighting terror in East Africa.
In the wide-ranging interview with the BBC's North America editor Jon Sopel before he left Washington, President Obama also said:
  • His failure to pass "common sense gun safety laws" in the US was the greatest frustration of his presidency
  • The UK must stay in the EU to have influence on the world stage
  • He is confident the Iran nuclear deal will be passed by Congress
  • Syria needs a political solution in order to defeat the Islamic State group
  • Despite racial tensions, the US is becoming more diverse and more tolerant.
It will be Mr Obama's first visit to Kenya since becoming president.
He will also become the first US leader to address the African Union when he travels on to Ethiopia on Sunday.
With hours to go till Mr Obama lands in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi is in lockdown with many streets closed and people opting to stay at home.
At the scene - Milton Nkosi, BBC News, Nairobi
A motorcyclist rides past a US flag at a main street as the country prepares to receive U.S. President Barack Obama for his three-day state visit, in Kenya's capital Nairobi 24 July 2015
Nairobi's streets - notorious for their long traffic jams - are empty. This is because of one of the largest security clampdowns the Kenyan capital has ever seen.
There is visible policing almost everywhere and security convoy sirens have been booming across the city all day.
President Obama is seen as Kenya's son - and this is a homecoming. But while Kenyans are happy and excited about his first visit as US president, they are paying the price of having their movements restricted.
Mosques have had to open and close early to avoid many road closures. Some businesses have had to shut early to avoid being trapped.
But it is a price they are happy to pay to host the most powerful man in the world.
This is Mr Obama's fifth trip to Africa as president, but despite his close family links to Kenya, he has faced criticism in some African countries over the legalisation of gay marriage in the US.
However, the president told the BBC he would not fall silent on the issue.
Media captionKenyans tell the BBC their feelings on President Obama's comments about gay rights
The US leader also agreed that some African governments, including Kenya's, needed to improve their records on human rights and democracy.
However, he defended his decision to engage with and visit those governments.
"Well, they're not ideal institutions. But what we found is, that when we combined blunt talk with engagement, that gives us the best opportunity to influence and open up space for civil society."

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