... So that You may be kept informed

EUR: World parties as Obama wins historic US election

05 Nov 2008 11:24 PM By Prashant Rao

LONDON, Nov 5 AFP - Supporters of Barack Obama erupted into song and dance around the world today, from the bars of London and Sydney to a sleepy village in Kenya, after his historic US election victory.

Parties spilled onto the streets from Berlin to Havana and from Paris to the small Japanese town of Obama, and expat Americans joined rallies in cities around the globe.

"Senator Obama is our new president. God has answered our prayer," said pastor Washington Obonyo in Kogelo, the Kenyan village where Obama's grandmother lives and where his late father was born.

"I am very happy. I have not slept the whole night, even my wife slept alone as I waited for the results," added Joseph Otieno, a jubilant Kogelo resident, while men cheered and clapped while women ululated and shouted "Obama! Obama!"

For tens of millions of non-Americans without a direct share in the vote, it was a chance to see Obama make history as the first black US leader.

In Obama, an ancient fishing town on the Sea of Japan, residents dressed inHawaiian skirts performed a hula dance in celebration, embracing Hawaiian-born Obama as one of their own.

"I'm so excited because Obama shares our town's name. But even if the town was called McCain I would still support Barack Obama," said 44-year-old dancer Masayo Ishibashi.

In London, Americans munching hot dogs and swigging bottled beer crowded the Democrat-dominated Yates bar in the nightclub quarter, the second largestparty in town after a bash at the US embassy.

"It would be nice to have a president who is celebrated when he goes abroadand his effigy is not burned," said one partygoer, David Grey.

There were similar scenes across western Europe. In Berlin revellers partied on the Unter den Linden boulevard, just down the road from where Obama drew 200,000 people to hear him speak in July.

Catherena Oostveen, a German-Russian actress who trained in the United States, showed up in a red-white-and-blue t-shirt and a cowboy hat.

"Obama is so intelligent and inspiring that I hope he can change the things that the rest of the world is so angry about right now," she said.

In Paris, American expats gathered at one of Ernest Hemingway's favourite watering holes as well as other bars.

Across town, proudly wearing an Obama pin, Herve Moussakanda loaded up his plate with cheese before sidling up to a big screen in a nightclub.

"I just couldn't miss this. This is historic. A dream come true," he said, one of hundreds of French blacks cheering the first African-American to winthe White House.

In an upmarket suburb of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, where Obama spent part of his schooldays, ex-classmate Dewi Asmara Oetojo recalled an easy-going little boy who said he wanted to be president.

"It's just amazing. I mean, we're so proud of him," said Oetejo, a lawmakerin Indonesia's parliament.

In Afghanistan soldiers at Bagram Air base, the biggest US base in the country, welcomed Obama's election as their new commander-in-chief, but said itwould not change their mission to defeat the Taliban.

"It is a historic election," Major Rory Aylward told an AFP reporter at themassive base north of Kabul. "I am happy so many people went out and voted. It makes me feel what I am doing over here is worthwhile."

In Iraq, the other war that Obama will inherit, his win was hailed by blackUS soldiers and civilian workers at the sprawling Camp Speicher near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

Kareem, a 50-year-old contract bus driver from Houston, Texas, said with a grin: "We'll finally have our African-American president! Whites had 43 presidents, they might as well leave us one."

But there was bitter disappointment from other soldiers that Vietnam veteran John McCain - seen as more pro-military - had lost.

One woman sergeant said Obama's win "will be hell for the army".

Cubans spent the hours glued to their TV sets, some capturing US channels illegally with a satellite receiver.

"It's impressive, we were waiting for that result. We hope that things willstart to change," said a 32-year-old law student in Havana, who heard the results from a neighbour with a clandestine cable connection.

Many of Beijing's expat bars were also packed. Some introduced a special breakfast with red and blue cocktails representing the candidates.

At the swanky Marriott Renaissance hotel, 600 Chinese students, academics and government officials were hosted by US embassy officials, who set up a voting booth complete with ballot box and real ballot.

Joyce Tu, a pro-Obama Chinese businesswoman, lamented the lack of electionsin China.

"China will never have a minority president," she told AFP, "and will neverhave a non-Communist party president as long as we never have elections."

AFP jl =0A