The Washington Times - May 16, 2009, 01:50PM

*** The original post did not clarify that this will be the president’s first trip to SubSaharan Africa. He will visit the African continent for the first time when he goes to Egypt in early June. The headline has been modified to note this. ***

The White House announced Saturday that President Obama will visit Africa for the first time as president at the end of a trip to Russia and Italy, but that he will not go to his father’s homeland of Kenya.

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Mr. Obama will visit Accra, Ghana on July 10 and 11, the White House said.

The White House statement called Ghana “one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa” and said the president’s visit will highlight “the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development.”

Kenya, where Obama’s father lived most of his life, has undergone considerable political strife and social unrest in the last two years, including widespread violence in early 2008 following contested elections. 

Obama visited Kenya in 2006 while a U.S. senator, and received a hero’s welcome.

Ghana was one of five African countries to receive a visit from President Bush during his trip through the continent in early 2007.

At the time of that visit, Bush doused rumors that Ghana would be the site of a new U.S. military base that would serve as the headquarters for AFRICOM, or United States African Command.

“I know there’s rumors in Ghana, ‘All Bush is coming to do is try to convince you to put a big military base here.’ That’s baloney. Or as we asy in Texas, that’s bull,” Bush said during a press conference with then-Ghanaian President John Kufour.

“Mr. President made it clear to me, he said, look, we — you’re not going to build in any bases in Ghana. I said, I understand; nor do we want to. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t develop some kind of office somewhere in Africa. We haven’t made our minds up. This is a new concept,” Bush said.

— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times

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