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Obama visit is key for economy - Ebrahim

Jun 21 2013 20:04 Sapa

US President Barack Obama. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

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Pretoria - Despite planned protests by some organisations when US President Barack Obama visits South Africa, the visit was important for the economy, Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said on Friday.

"As far as protests are concerned, of course South Africa is a free, democratic country and anyone who wants to protest for whatever reason will have the right," he said.

"It is important that the president of the United States is visiting South Africa. We have very good political and economic relations. The United States is an important player and we think we would benefit from discussing with the US the problems of Africa."

Ebrahim said details of Obama's visit would be divulged at a press briefing scheduled for Monday June 24.

Speculation is rife on whether the US's first black president will see ailing 94-year-old South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, on a trip on which he will be accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama.

Obama's African tour includes visits to Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa.

The Muslim Lawyers' Association (MLA) said it intends taking the National Prosecuting Authority to court for refusing to arrest Obama when he visits South Africa.

It wants South Africa to investigate or arrest him over the US government's drone policy.

A row was reportedly also brewing over plans by the University of Johannesburg to award Obama an honorary degree.

According to a report in the Sunday Independent, students were split on this but the university said the process had not been finalised yet.


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barack obama  |  ebrahim ebrahim  |  sa economy
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