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Kenya Declares Holiday to Salute Obama
    2008-11-05 14:53:03     Xinhua

Related: Kenyans Celebrate Obama's Victory

The Kenyan government has declared a public holiday on Thursday to celebrate Barack Obama the U.S. President-elect for winning the historic American elections.

A statement from President Kibaki said Kenyans will take a day off to mark the historic election of Obama to the most powerful office on earth.

Kibaki's statement came as Kenyans had already started to celebrate Obama's victory with song and dance breaking out in Kibera, Nairobi and Kogelo, the U.S. President-elect ancestral home as soon as U.S. media projected the Democrat's victory.

Song and dance in several other towns and residents greet news of U.S. President-elect Obama as his rival Republic John McCain conceded defeat.

Dozens of local and international journalists have descended on Kogelo, where the father of Obama was born and raised.

Religious leaders led an inter-denominational service and thereafter joined Obama's grandmother, Sarah Onyango, at their home where TV screens have been put up to allow residents to keep vigil.

Obama's father and namesake grew up in Nyangoma Kogelo, a small village in Nyanza Province, and the election has created huge excitement.

To Kenyans, Obama's impressive rhetorical skills have bolstered his appeal almost as much as his father's nationality.

Scenes of wild celebrations were also seen at the Kenyatta International Conference in Nairobi where Kenyans kept vigil all night following the U.S. election in giant screens.

Large screens were erected in social places across the country in the middle of the cities and towns and hundreds of people gathered to watch the results come in.

"It's been a long time coming, but tonight ... change has come to America," the president-elect told a jubilant crowd at a park in Chicago.

His rival John McCain accepted defeat, saying "I deeply admire and commend," Obama. He called on his supporters to lend the next president their goodwill.

"On every level America will be changed by this result ... it will never be the same," he said.

Obama captured the key battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, before passing the essential figure of 270 Electoral College votes at 0400 GMT, when projections showed he had also taken California and a slew of other states.

Then came the news that he had also seized Florida, Virginia and Colorado -- all of which voted Republican in 2004 -- turning swathes of the map from red to blue.

Several other key swing states are hanging in the balance. In Indiana and North Carolina, with most of the vote counted, there was less than 0.5 percentage points between the two candidates.

Obama, 47, will be inaugurated the 44th U.S. president on January 20, 2009, and inherit an economy mired in the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a nuclear showdown with Iran.

Television networks projected his victory over Republican John McCain after Senator Obama solidified traditional Democratic states and cut deep into the Republican territory which his rival needed to control to win the White House.

Obama's historic inauguration will complete a stunning ascent to the pinnacle of U.S. and global politics from national obscurity just four years ago.

 
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