24-hour security for Obama relatives

Saturday November 8 2008

Kenyan relatives of U.S. Democratic

Kenyan relatives of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama attend a media briefing in Nyangoma Kogelo village on Monday. A permanent police post is set to be built at the home. Photo/REUTERS 

By DOMINIC WABALA

Kenyan police are already providing round-the-clock security for the relatives of the US President-elect Barack Obama at their Nyangoma Kogelo home in Siaya.

A permanent police post is set to be built at the home after the police acquired a 1.3-acre plot for the purpose.

Initially eight police officers moved in to stay in tents after an attempted burglary on Obama’s grandmother Sarah’s house days after Obama was endorsed by the Democratic party delegates as their presidential candidate. Now about 20 officers are detailed to guard the home.

Visitors to the Obama homestead are being subjected to vetting and a fence has been erected around the home.

Obama’s win as the first African-American president in the United States is historical in many ways.

Secret Service

For the first time, the Secret Service who are tasked with protecting the President of the United States and the vice president and their families, president-elect and vice president-elect and their immediate families and former presidents and their spouses might be called upon to protect some members of Obama’s extended family.

In addition to his grandmother, his Kenyan relatives who are fairly known to the public are his step brothers Malik Obama and George Onyango Obama, and step sister Dr Auma Obama.

The president-elect is also understood to have kept touch with a number of cousins from the time he began retracing his roots in the early 1980s.

It is likely that either the elite commando squad, code-named ‘Recce squad’, who provide supplementary security to diplomatic missions like the US, Israeli and British in Kenya or the US Marines will guard some of President-elect Obama’s relatives.

Family members

Actual or attempted harm on any member of the Obama family — immediate or extended — would be seen as more than an embarrassment to the US in a country that has twice been hit by terrorists in the last 10 years.

The US embassy in Nairobi has on several occasions invited the President-elect’s Kenyan relatives, including Mama Sarah, to official functions, which implies it recognises Obama’s relatives in Kenya.

His other relatives live in the United Kingdom and Germany.

The Israeli-trained ‘Recce Squad’ are highly skilled in V.I.P security and form the core of President Kibaki’s security detail.