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Obama warns of challenges ahead, kicking off three days of inauguration celebrations

Article published on the 2009-01-19 Latest update 2009-01-19 12:32 TU

Barack Obama at the Lincoln Memorial, 18 January 2009(Photo: Reuters)

Barack Obama at the Lincoln Memorial, 18 January 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

Barack Obama, in a speech on Sunday in Washington kicking off three days celebrations ahead of his inauguration as President on Tuesday, warned Americans that there are tough challenges ahead. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the US capital for a free outdoor concert. Obama is to honour Martin Luther King Jr on Monday, the day that the civil rights leader’s birthday is observed in the United States.

“It will take more than a month, or a year. It will likely take many,” said Obama on Sunday, after saying the US was in a period of renewal. “Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts.”

“Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dreams of our fathers will live on in our time,” he continued.

Report: correspondent Rene Gutel, Washington, DC, United States


“Barack Obama is coming to power when the United States is at its weakest point economically since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and at a time when the image of the US is also at a low,” said correspondent Rene Gutel.

Obama aides say the new president will act rapidly to enact his economic revival plans, and convene the military to find a way out of Iraq and recommit troops in Afghanistan.

He is expected to start shutting down the detention centre at Guantanamo bay this week.

In his speech for Martin Luther King Day, Obama will call for a commitment to community service to rebuild America one neighbourhood at a time.

On Saturday, he urged Americans to adopt a new "Declaration of Independence" from bigotry, small thinking and ideology.

These are themes that will figure prominently in his inaugural address.