January 2nd, 2008 12:49 EST
World Chronicle: January 2
AFRICA NAIROBI, Kenya. Pictures of angry people with machetes and machine guns flooded TV reports from Africa as Kenya plunges into chaos after last week's presidential election. The death toll has risen to 275 people since Sunday, when Kenya's election commission announced the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, the winner of the highly contested election.
The results caught international observers by surprise, as most opinion polls had indicated the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, as the candidate with the highest support. The presidential election has unleashed tribal violence, unknown in the country famous for its stability.
On Tuesday around 50 Kikuyu were killed as the church in which they had sought shelter was set on fire by members of another tribe. According to the United Nations, as many as 70,000 people have left their homes since Sunday, with over 5,000 fleeing to neighboring Uganda.
AMERICAS BOGOTA, Columbia. Being Hugo Chavez can open many doors in Latin America; but, this time, the mercurial Venezuelan president had to admit defeat.
Neither he nor leaders from five other regional powers managed to talk the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia into releasing three hostages. Among them are former presidential candidate Clara Rojas and her three-year-old son, whose father is apparently one of the captors.
Chavez's failure appears the most painful, as the Venezuelan head of state arrived in Columbia surrounded by cameramen and journalists. The entourage was led by Hollywood director Oliver Stone, the celebrity known for his critique of the current American administration. Unfortunately for Stone, the release talks failed and the cameras could record nothing, except for Hugo Chavez's disappointed face.
ASIA ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. Parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8, will be held more than a month later, the Pakistani election commission announced Wednesday. According to the commission, the crisis sparked by the death of former prime minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, made it impossible to hold the elections as planned. Bhutto's party– led by her husband and son– said Tuesday that any postponement of the elections would mean that the government was trying to secure its own victory.
Dozens of buildings have been burned and demolished as a result of wide-spread protests; some regions still remain unstable as the police and army are unable to provide security.
Despite President Musharraf's calls to stay at home until the cities are safe again, hundreds of Bhutto's supporters cram the streets to protest their discontent with the current situation.
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia. Tapes from the past that should have never reached the light of day ended many prosperous political careers, with President Nixon's being only the most notorious example. Malaysia now also has its own tape gate, or rather DVD gate.
In this traditionally conservative and predominantly Muslim country, hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens with DVD players could watch their health minister engaged in sexual activities with a woman (or in the minister's own words, just “a friend”) who was not his wife.
“Some Malaysians have a holier-than-thou attitude. At the end of the day, it just tells you that honesty sometimes does not pay,” said the main protagonist, Minister Chua Soi Lek, in his farewell speech.
EUROPE BELGRADE, Serbia. A Kosovo-based Serb bank office turned into ruins as a bomb was detonated late Tuesday evening. The police recorded no injuries.
The incident reminds the residents of Kosovo about the tense relations between the predominantly Albanian province and the central authorities in Belgrade. It was the second time when unknown perpetrators have planted a bomb at the bank building since its opening in 2004.
Kosovo is a Serbian province ruled by the United Nations. A European Union-sponsored conference that was to resolve the problem only angered both parties.
MIDDLE EAST GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip. Israel decided to plunge into inter-Palestinian clashes, killing seven Palestinian rebels Wednesday. According to news agencies, all were members of the Hamas group which does not recognize Israel and calls for armed insurrection against the Jewish state.
The Israeli offensive is perceived as a step to calm the situation before US President Bush's visit to the Middle East, scheduled for next week.