Nairobi closes airspace for Obama visit

President's security undermined after flight times leaked

Kenya is to close its airspace for 50 minutes to facilitate the arrival of US president Barack Obama in Nairobi on 23 July, according to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

The aviation body will also enforce a ban on planes flying lower than 6,000 metres over Nairobi for the duration of Obama's visit, between 23 and 26 July.

The country's national airline, Kenyan Airways, has come in for criticism from the US for compromising Obama's security by revealing his precise arrival and departure times. Although Obama's trip to Kenya, the land of his father's birth, has been anticipated for weeks, the exact flight times of the presidential carrier Air Force One are usually kept under wraps.

The US recently warned its citizens in Kenya of the potential for terrorist attacks during the visit of Obama who will participate in the Sixth Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi from 24-26 July.

Washington said the summit could provide "a target for terrorists", in particular al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist militants responsible for killing 148 people at a university in the north-eastern town of Garissa in April.

Commuters in Nairobi are preparing for significant disruption for the duration of the visit after police announced major road closures in the capital, which has undergone a revamp for the occasion.

Kenyan airspace will also be closed for a further 40 minutes on 26 July when Obama departs for Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia, for a two-day visit.

See related article.

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