Dar es Salaam — US PRESIDENT Barack Obama touched down in Dar es Salaam on Monday, for the last leg of his three-country tour of Africa.
Mr Obama was greeted by a sea of ecstatic Tanzanians, who poured out of their houses and businesses along the main streets of the city to welcome the first US president with family roots in Africa.
Mr Obama’s first visit to Tanzania, a key US ally, began with a meeting at the country’s State House with President Jakaya Kikwete.
Mr Obama was greeted by the military band of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force, which played the US national anthem twice. Volleys from cannons repeatedly punctuated the songs with huge blasts in the air. On a yellow banner with Mr Obama’s picture were the words, "President Obama, Welcome to Tanzania," in Swahili.
But it was the drive from the airport to the State House that was most striking. People lined nearly every inch of the streets as the motorcade made the 20-minute journey. The crowds, a dozen rows deep in some places, roared with approval as Mr Obama passed by.
Mr Obama and his predecessor, George W Bush, are to lay a wreath on Tuesday in Tanzania at the site of the 1998 bombing of the US embassy, the White House said. On August 7 1998, twin bomb attacks by Islamist militants on US diplomatic missions in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killed more than 200 people.
Mr Bush has been in Africa since last week promoting causes linked to cancer awareness.
Mr Obama will then visit a power plant, following up on his announcement that Washington will invest $7bn in expanding power networks in Africa.
Shortly after touching down, the president announced new US support for tackling poaching, in particular of rhino and elephants.
Mr Obama said poaching had become an "international crisis that continues to escalate". The administration set up a task force to aid African governments in combating the illegal trade in animals while also seeking to curb the demand for items such as rhino horns.
The horns are most in demand in Asia, where some believe they have medicinal value, although there is no science to back the claim.
The president is accompanied by first lady Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha.
Numerous trade and business officials are travelling with Obama, who is drumming up support for deepening commerce links between the US and the continent.
The president announced that he would invite African heads of government to the US next year to take part in a summit to relaunch relations between Washington and African nations.
During his visit to South Africa and Senegal, the US leader called for better governance in Africa, to match the fast pace of economic expansion.
Mr Obama has been criticised for not engaging enough with the continent, and ceding ground and influence to China and other emerging powers.
While the Senegal and South African legs of his trip were overshadowed by former president Nelson Mandela’s ill health, the Egyptian uprising was dominant in the final leg of his visit.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe state media reported on Monday Christopher Mutsvangwa, a former ambassador to China appointed by President Robert Mugabe, said Mr Obama voiced "a sinister plan" to influence Zimbabwe’s elections to oust Mr Mugabe. While in South Afruca, Mr Obama criticised Zimbabwe for bad governance. Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper said Mr Obama was mired in "international barbarism, drone assassinations and spying".