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February 17, 2019

Obama visit private, Kogelo event strictly for invitees not the public

The basketball court Obama is expected to launch on Monday
The basketball court Obama is expected to launch on Monday

Former US President Barack Obama’s visit to Kogelo is a private event, not a public rally, residents have been told.

Security has been stepped up in Kogelo, Alego, and environs ahead of today’s trip by Obama whose father grew up here.

Only accredited visitors will attend the Sauti Kuu Foundation launch, police have said. The youth empowerment charity has been started by his sister.

Despite being a private event, Obama is being accorded the protocol of a former head of state.

Daily activities will be disrupted by high security presence and closed roads.

Nyanza regional police commander Leonard Katana on Saturday said plenty of officers were deployed on the roads leading to the village to maintain order.

“Let’s not have commotion on Monday [today]. Those who have not been accredited should keep off,” he said.

The police boss said the Ng’iya-Ndori road would be closed today and urged travellers to use alternative routes.

“Ng’iya-Ndori road will only be for visitors with stickers heading to the Sauti Kuu Foundation, and nowhere beyond that,” he said.

The car carrying Obama is to travel from Ng’iya Girls’ High School field, where he is to land.

Katana said that besides the invited guests, no one else would be allowed at or near the Sauti Kuu Foundation centre and the home of Obama’s grandmother Sarah Obama.

Only two Siaya MPs have been invited. Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo said only Alego Usonga’s Samuel Atandi and Bondo’s Gideon Ochanda are on the list of invitees.

Across the other Nyanza counties, only Suba South’s John Mbadi, Seme’s James Nyikali and Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo have been invited, the legislator said.

Among the region’s county chiefs, Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) and Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) have been invited.

Nyong’o will welcome Obama in Kisumu while Rasanga will receive him in Siaya. Both are also expected at the Sauti Kuu Centre.

Katana said accredited residents will be screened to prevent security lapses. He said only one media house had been allowed to cover the event. Katana said the company had paid for exclusive rights to the family to cover the event live. He did not identify it.

The Nairobi Traffic commander on Saturday said no road would be closed — unlike in 2015 when Obama visited while in his second term. He said traffic would not be interrupted but Obama’s convoy would be under tight security.


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