Monday, January 19, 2009

History made as Obama sworn in

A boy eats an ice cream next to a poster of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, in Kenya's western town of Kisumu, 355km (220 miles) west of the capital Nairobi, January 19, 2009. PHOTO/ REUTERS 

By AGENCIES

History will be made on Tuesday when Mr Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be sworn in as President of America.

Mr Obama, whose father was from Kenya, beat Republican candidate John McCain to become the 44th US President.

He will take the oath of office at noon (American time) to replace Mr George W. Bush who has served his final four-year term.

Mr Obama’s leadership rating hit the highest mark for a president-elect in nearly three decades, according to a new poll released on Monday.

Seventy-six per cent of Americans polled by CNN said Mr Obama was a “strong and decisive” leader.

That’s the best number an incoming president has got on that dimension since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, said CNN polling director Keating Holland.

The rating is also as high as current president George W. Bush’s rating after September 11 attacks.

Mr Obama easily beat the numbers that both presidents Bush and Bill Clinton got at the start of their first terms in office.

Just six in 10 felt that President Bush was a strong leader when he took office in 2001.

After the September 11 attacks, that number rose to three in four.

Sixty-seven per cent thought Bill Clinton was a strong leader when he took office in January 1993.

Eighty per cent of those surveyed said Obama inspires confidence, can get things done and is tough enough to be president, the three characteristics Americans look for in a leader.

He also got higher marks than Bush did in 2001 on honesty, values, issues, management abilities and compassion.

Security apparatus

The CNN survey was conducted between December 19 and 21, with 1,013 adult Americans questioned through the telephone.

In fact, the order to install a tightened and sophisticated security apparatus, unseen even in recent presidential inaugurations, came directly from the highest level of the US government.

On January 13, outgoing US President George W. Bush declared a state of emergency for the capital city from Jan. 17 to 21, when a series of celebration events are being held.

The declaration facilitated federal help for the Washington DC municipal government to handle security issues during the inauguration days.

So far, $15 million of federal funds have been transferred to the municipal government for that purpose, with more expected.

It is in addition to another $15 million that Congress set aside for the Washington inauguration security costs.

In another rarely seen move, the Bush administration designated Obama’s inauguration as a National Special Security Event, which put the US Secret Service in a position to lead all the other agencies to execute security plans.

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