US: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July

President Barack Obama is making the first visit by a sitting American president to Ethiopia next month.

President Obama will also be the first sitting U.S. President to visit the African Union headquarters.

The White House says the late July stop is being added to a previously announced trip by Obama to Kenya to participate in a global entrepreneurship summit.

Obama’s dark mood is a reflection of tense times, as America grapples with yet another mass shooting and lawmakers are engaged in a pitched debate over his effort to complete trade negotiations with 11 Pacific Rim nations. Obama arrived on Air Force One and landed at San Francisco worldwide Airport at 12:57 p.m. The president is heading from the airport to the 83rd annual U.S. Conference of Mayors at Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Obama then planned to spend Father’s Day weekend in Palm Springs, a favorite golf destination, while his wife and daughters are in Europe.

Ethiopia is the second most populous country on the continent.

Some human rights groups are questioning Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, noting that it comes so soon after a contested election. She said that the investment should not boost the repression of the government.

“The decision by President Obama to travel to Ethiopia, which has seen three opposition party members murdered this week alone, is very troubling”, Jeffrey Smith of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights told AFP. But they said the president must use his trip to draw attention to the government’s repeated use of targeted arrests and prosecutions to suppress any opposition from journalists, bloggers, protesters and political activists.

[quote]“We regularly, both in public and in private, communicate our concerns about some of the issues”, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.[/quote]

Ethiopia and Kenya have both been on the frontline of the fight against Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-allied militia Shebab, and have been important security partners to Washington.