Wednesday, February 27, 2008


ISIOLO, Kenya,

Residents of a remote Kenyan town plan a demonstration on Friday over a photo of U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama in Somali attire.

The picture, which appeared on a U.S. Web site, showed the Illinois senator donning a traditional white headdress and robes during a 2006 trip to Wajir in northeastern Kenya.

Aides to Obama, whose late father was from Kenya, accused his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's campaign of "the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering" of the election season after the picture was published.

Obama has fought a whispering campaign by fringe elements that say erroneously that he is Muslim. Clinton's camp denied officially approving the photo's release.

Wajir residents plan to demonstrate in the town after Friday prayers to show their support for Obama, said Ahmed Sheikh Bahalow, an elder from ethnically Somali Wajir.

The controversy made headlines in Kenya where many people support the Democratic front-runner in the way the Irish idolised U.S. President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s -- as one of their own who succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Bahalow, a kenyan retired teacher, said his community was offended by the insinuation Obama had done anything wrong on his visit.Obama is a member of the United church of christ and says he has never been a muslim.False rumours are circulating on the internet.

Clinton needs to win next week in Ohio and Texas to keep her campaign alive after Obama's streak of 11 straight victories.Once the odds-on favourite to win the Democratic nomination to run against a Republican candidate in November's poll, she has lost big leads in public opinion polls in the two states as Obama has gained momentum and made inroads among her supporters.

In an emailed statement, a St Paul, Minnesota-based lobby group, the Somali Justice Advocacy Centre, said it had demanded an apology from the Clinton campaign over the photo affair.

Previously, Hillary Clinton herself had worn clothes of various countries she had visited.