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Published:January 3rd, 2008 15:42 EST
World Chronicle: January 3

World Chronicle: January 3

By Krzys Wasilewski

AFRICA

NAIROBI, Kenya. The streets of Nairobi are empty but high tension still remains after police forces quelled the disturbances on Thursday. Hundreds of disappointed Kenyans gathered on the outskirts of the capital in the morning to attend a rally organized by the opposition leader, Raila Odinga. This time there were no casualties as the fire gas fired by the police was enough to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, Mombasa – the largest port in the Horn of Africa – remains shut down.The implications are severe as a number of countries rely on the port. Also the Kenyan economy suffers from the political chaos with foreign investors withdrawing from the country once regarded as an example of stability and progress. After days of violent clashes between the country's leading tribes – incited by the rigged presidential election – the situation in Kenya seems to slowly be stabilizing. Quoted by the Associated Press, the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki said Thursday: “I am ready to have dialog with concerned parties once the nation is calm and the political temperatures are lowered enough for constructive and productive engagement.” Raila Odinga, who had led in most opinion polls before the election, asked foreign leaders from Africa and Europe to mediate between the warring parties. Also on Thursday, Kenya's attorney general called for the creation of the government of national unity that would operate until a new presidential election.

AMERICAS

DES MOINES, Iowa. Every four years, an obscure U.S. state, known mainly for the production of soya beans and maize, turns into a world celebrity. This year, the strategic importance of Iowa may be more significant than ever, with the outcome of the Thursday primaries remaining a riddle no one dares to guess. As Republicans will be writing the name of their desired candidate on a piece of paper, their Democratic neighbors will be lining up in front of their favorite politician. The latest opinion polls differ as much as they have done for the last year; it seems that the donkey party will be led by Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John Edwards. In the Republican camp the list of front runners is even longer, with Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee being the only potential winners of the Iowa caucus. Statistics show that 85 percent of the candidates who won Iowa primaries made it to the national elections. Who stole the hearts and minds of Iowans this year will be known Thursday late night, but whether they will prove the statistics right or wrong, will turn out in November.

ASIA

PYONGYANG, North Korea. North Korea's nuclear disarmament is one of the few positive achievements in the Bush Administration's diplomacy, but it is too early to call it a breakthrough success. Whereas the Pyongyang communist regime seems to have closed its nuclear program, then it has continually refused to finalize its final pledge – to provide Washington with fully detailed documentation. Next week, US Special Envoy Christopher Hill is expected in Japan, South Korea, and China to consult with the American allies about further steps. As Japan and South Korea are bound to cooperate with their American partner, China may take a more pro-North Korean position. In a conference held in Beijing on Thursday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman defended Pyongyang, saying that her government “believe[s] the comprehensive implementation of actions will open broader prospects for the six-party talks.”

EUROPE

LONDON, Great Britain. The euro is soaring into the place for number one European currency as the British Pound continues to devalue. Investors are scared with the latest data releases concerning the British economy which clearly show that the 2007 figures are much lower than expected. An economist from Thomson IFR Markets told Agance France Press that “The pound is suffering on the back of forecast UK base rate cuts through 2008 and the first of these forecast cuts may come as early as next week.” Some experts predict that the era of the British Pound – traditionally the strongest currency on the continent – is drawing to a close. More and more investors eschew banknotes with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in favor of the stronger and more predictable euro. The current number of countries which use euro is 15 - all of them being members of the European Union. The group consists of such economic giants as Germany and France, but also of microscopic countries like Malta and Cyprus, which both joined the Euro zone on January 1, 2008.

MIDDLE EAST

ANKARA, Turkey. Five people were killed and almost 70 wounded as the result of a bomb explosion in southern Turkey. Thirty of the injured are soldiers, who the local police suspect were the real target of the attack. According to witnesses, the car bomb was detonated when the army bus approached an exclusive hotel. The city's governor told the Associated Press: “A bomb left in a car ... was set off with a remote control. It was a very strong one. It was targeting a military service bus.” The southeastern city of Diyarbakir is dominated by Kurds. The national minority has been fighting the central government for decades, trying to carve out a territory big enough to host Kurds who are presently residing in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Azerbaijan. The fights between Ankara and Kurds have intensified since the US-led coalition invaded neighboring Iraq in 2003.