January 8th, 2008 12:35 EST
World Chronicle: January 8
KHARTOUM, Sudan. A troop of vehicles belonging to the United Nations mission in Sudan was attacked on Tuesday, leaving one driver seriously wounded and two trucks damaged. The ambush occurred in the volatile region of Darfur, where various rebel groups are said to be operating. Deployed within the first days of 2008, UNAMID – as the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan is known – hopes to finally stabilize the situation in Darfur, where years of fighting between local tribesmen and Islamic forces have left over 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million homeless.
NAIROBI, Kenya. The chairman of the African Union arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday, but the political chaos, which broke out after the rigged presidential election, is far from over. Ghana's president John Kufour, who leads the AU this year, hopes to get the two warring sides to talk and resolve the conflict, which has cost 500 lives so far. His mission may soon end, however, as the opposition has rejected the idea of creating a government of national unity. The Spokesman of the main opposition party told Agence France Press today that “[t]he whole thing is a gimmick, the cabinet is a joke. We do not recognize the president and therefore we won't recognize his cabinet.”
News agencies also report today that the Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, called both the incumbent Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga. Obama, who is a serious presidential contender, has roots in Kenya as his father came from the country.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire. The Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in New Hampshire began on Tuesday. According to the latest opinion polls, Senator Barack Obama is bound for a landslide win, with his main rivals – Hillary Clinton and John Edwards – trailing him by over 10 percent. Should he score in New Hampshire, Obama will become the Democrats' leading candidate – a position that, until recently, was claimed by Hillary Clinton.
In the Republican field, anything is possible. Even if John McCain wins today (as opinion polls indicate), he still may fell short of securing the national nomination. Mitt Romney, the victor of the Saturday Wyoming caucus, still holds every chance of winning New Hampshire, but the doubts about his electibility nationwide are even higher than McCain's. The unexpected winner of the Iowa primaries, Mike Huckabee, seems to be unable to garner any wide support from groups other than Evangelicals who secured his success last Thursday.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan minister for nation building, D.M. Dassanayake, was killed on Tuesday in a roadside bomb near the country's capital. According to various sources, the minister, together with his personal guard, lost their lives and at least 10 passersby were injured. The Tamil Tiger rebels, who have been fighting the central government for decades, took the responsibility for the attack.
Dassanayake, having once been arrested and charged with corruption, is said to have had links to Sri Lankan criminal society. In an official statement, the government condemned the attack, saying that it was “the price we have to pay for democracy, as has often been stated, is eternal vigilance.”
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. Political tensions after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto remain high in Pakistan as the country is preparing itself for the delayed parliamentary elections. Agence France Press quotes Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who inherited from his mother the leadership of the main opposition party, as saying on Tuesday: “I fear for my country. I fear that if free and fair elections are not held it may disintegrate.” In the same press conference, the 19-year-old student-turned-politician told reporters that he wanted the United Nations to be involved into the official investigation of his mother's death. Although two weeks have passed since Benazir Bhutto was supposedly shot dead, many questions concerning her murder remain unanswered.
PARIS, France. Although the French economy continues to plummet and the number of illegal immigrants rises every month, what really concerns ordinary Frenchmen is their president's love escapades. Twice divorced Nicholas Sarkozy (his second marriage ended in October of last year) has enjoyed the limelight since paparazzi caught the 52-year-old president with a former Italian top-model, Carla Bruni. At a press conference held today, Sarkozy admitted that his romance was “serious” and that eager reporters might “learn about [a wedding]” once it's already occurred.
While presidents in the Puritan United States are expected to lead an ascetic life, in France love affairs of leading politicians may even boost their support. During nearly every presidency, the French learn about their head of state's various activities, usually involving either money or women.
TEHRAN, Iran. Two days after a confrontation between American and Iranian battleships in the Hormuz Strait, neither side wants to take responsibility. Quoted by the Associated Press, U.S. Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, who is the commander of U.S. 5th Fleet, said on Tuesday that he “can't help but conclude that it was provocative.” In addition, the same news agency cites a White House official as saying: “It was not normal behavior. It's just another point of reference for people in the region who are concerned about the behavior of Iran.”
The Iranian authorities, on the other hand, rejected the accusations. One of the Revolutionary Guards' commanders claimed that the American ships trespassed into the Iranian sea territory, resulting in defensive action from Tehran.