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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nairobi cops target IDs ahead of Obama visit

SHARPSHOOTER: Police IG Joseph Boinett prepares to fire a gun at the Madogo Shooting Range, Garissa, yesterday.Photo/Stephen Astariko
SHARPSHOOTER: Police IG Joseph Boinett prepares to fire a gun at the Madogo Shooting Range, Garissa, yesterday.Photo/Stephen Astariko

THOUSANDS of security personnel will carry out swoops to arrest individuals without national identification cards ahead of President Barack Obama's arrival next week.

The government plans to deploy nearly 15,000 officers in Nairobi and its environs from the regular and Administration police, the GSU, Prisons, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service rangers and National Youth Service personnel.

They will patrol all streets and estates.

The officers have been instructed to arrest persons without national IDs and who are found loitering in the streets, especially at night.

Obama is expected in the country on July 25 and 26 and will alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta address the Sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit mid-morning on July 25, as co-hosts.

They will also hold talks at State House, where they will mainly discuss security, stability in the region and trade between Kenya and the US.

The police have been rounding up street families and getting them off city streets, especially Westlands, where the Obama team has taken over two hotels.

All police officers currently on leave have been recalled to boost security ahead of the visit.

Last week, Kenya was requested by the Americans to provide 2,000 police officers, preferably from the elite Recce Squad, who are to work with the 800 US security agents escorting Obama.

At the same time, the Americans have taken over five hotels in Nairobi, where they have set up operation centres, according to sources within the industry.

The Star also learnt that the presidential car known as The Beast and its decoy will arrive in the country mid-next week, alongside a state-of-the-art ambulance that is part of the Obama motorcade.

Inquiries by the Star disclosed that Secret Service and White House staff who arrived on Tuesday were booked at the Sankara Hotel and the Hotel Royal Orchid Azure in the Westlands area.

The Star spotted the trucks that were used by the Americans to ferry equipment from JKIA, after offloading from the US Air Force planes in the Sankara Hotel parking lot.

The Americans have also set up base at two hotels in the CBD and one on Mombasa Road, which is the main access to JKIA.

The hotels are the Inter-Continental, which is said to have the largest Presidential Suite in the country, Serena Hotel and Boma Hotel.

“The United Sates of America has not only booked the entire guest rooms but also the executive office of the hotel's general manager, which will be used as a communications centre. This will be the second communications base for President Obama’s security team after the Sankara Hotel," one source told the Star.

According to those familiar with the arrangement, the Hotel Royal Orchid Azure is fully booked from July 20 to July 29.

A check at the Sankara showed that one can only reserve a room on dates after July 27.

American security personnel were also spotted at Kenyatta University, which is also undergoing some renovations, including at the main entrance.

Sources have said that Obama may give a public lecture targeting the youth at the university on the afternoon of July 25.

Though Obama's itinerary is still a closely guarded secret, his protocol team has met opposition leaders and civil society activists.

The security team has also been to the Maasai Mara and to K’Ogelo, where Obama’s father hailed from and is buried.

It has also visited the KICC and Parliament Buildings.

It is still unclear whether Obama will visit all these places during his stay, which the government claims to not know how long it will be.

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