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SA gets new US ambassador

The announcement was made ahead of US President Barack Obama’s trip to South Africa.

Several protesters marched to the US Embassy in Pretoria ahead of President Obama's visit to SA. Picture:Christa Van der Walt/EWN.

PRETORIA - United Sates (US) President Barack Obama has chosen top Democratic Party official and former White House aide Patrick Gaspard as the new ambassador to South Africa.

He made the announcement ahead of a scheduled visit to South Africa, which forms part of a three-state visit to Africa.

Gaspard is the Head of the Democratic National Committee, a position he has held since 2011.

Previously, he served as an assistant to the president and as Director of the Office of Political Affairs from 2009 to 2011.

US Embassy spokesperson Jack Hillmeyer said, "The president trusts him in this position and is excited to be sending him out to represent the US."

Gaspard has worked very closely with Obama.

'NOBAMA' PROTESTS

Several people on Friday demonstrated outside the US Embassy in Pretoria to object to Obama's impending visit.

Children, students and adults affiliated to unions as well as religious groups took part in the protest.

A petition was circulated during the demonstration.

One giant banner read, "Meet the world's top assassin."

"We find that Obama has a secret agenda by coming to this country. We oppose America's imperialist, colonialist and communist attitude towards Africa and the Middle East, where resources are being found," one protestor said.

The 'No You Can't Obama' campaign (Nobama) said demonstrators were opposed to US domestic and foreign policy, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US-Middle East relations, globalisation and global warming.

More protests are planned for Saturday at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) over the "poor and undemocratic" decision to award Obama an honorary doctorate.

Obama is scheduled to address students at UJ's Soweto campus at 3.30pm on Saturday.

The South African government has repeatedly said people have a democratic right to protest, while US analysts expect Obama to receive a warm welcome, regardless of the opposition.

Obama will land at the Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria on Friday at 8pm.

He will then travel to Tanzania on Sunday.

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