Key Dates in Obama’s First Year as President

Here are the key events in the first year of the US presidency of Barack Obama, who was sworn into office on January 20, 2009.

•January 22, 2009: Obama orders the closure, within one year, of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, in a symbolic break with the policy of his predecessor George W. Bush. Faced with practical difficulties in closing the prison, he acknowledges on November 18 the deadline will not be met.

•February 17: Obama signs his huge US$787-billion stimulus bill into law, declaring the “beginning of the end” of the worst US economic crisis since the 1930s. In August, he says that his administration has saved the US economy from catastrophe.

•February 27: He announces the withdrawal of most US soldiers from Iraq by the end of August, 2010, with a total withdrawal before the end of 2011.

•March 5: He launches his reform of a health care system that burdens public budgets and excludes millions of Americans, a dossier on which many of his predecessors in the White House failed.

On September 9 he pleads his cause in a joint address to both chambers of Congress in which he declares “the time for bickering is over.”

His personal commitment is rewarded with the plan’s narrow passage on November 7 in the House of Representatives and on December 24 in the Senate. The two versions of the bill still have to be reconciled.

•March 20: Obama launches a direct appeal to the Iranian people, urging an end to decades of animosity and offering “honest” engagement with the Islamic Republic, in a video message marking the Iranian New Year.

•April 2: Obama steps officially onto the international stage as US president at the summit of the G20 (Group of 20) in London.

•April 5: He pledges to lead a quest for a world purged of nuclear weapons, during a summit with European Union leaders in Prague.

•June 4: He says he wants “a new beginning” with the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, and calls for an end to a cycle of “suspicion and discord,” in a speech at Cairo University.

•September 24-25: He hosts G20 leaders in Pittsburgh, at a summit aimed at laying the ground for a new economic and financial governance and averting a new world economic crisis.

•October 2: He suffers his first failure, with the elimination of Chicago as a candidate to host the 2016 Olympic Games, in the first round of voting, after Obama had personally visited Copenhagen to plead the cause of his hometown before the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

•October 9: Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he receives in Oslo on December 10.

•December 1: After weeks of consultations, he announces the deployment in 2010 of 30,000 extra soldiers in Afghanistan “at the fastest pace possible” and in the name of the “vital national interest” of the United States.

•January 13, 2010: He promises a “rapid, coordinated and energetic” response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, sending an aircraft carrier and more than 10,000 soldiers.

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