Obama Wades Into Kenya Fray

Candidate tells opposition leader in father's homeland he's worried about violence
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2008 11:54 AM CST
Obama Wades Into Kenya Fray
Kenyans reach out to grab clothes handed out by the Kenyan Red Cross, Tuesday, Jan.8, 2008 in the Kibera slum in Nairobi. Kenya's president and his chief rival made key concessions to end the dispute over the country's elections, calling off protests and agreeing to talks under pressure from the United...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Barack Obama called Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga in an effort to help defuse the bloody post-election standoff in the African nation. "He called to express grave concern over the election outcome," Odinga's spokesman told the AP. Obama's father was from Kenya, where 500 people have died in brutal ethnic-cleansing-style violence since the disputed December 27 election.

Obama also plans to call Mwai Kibaki, stepping up US pressure on the Kenyan president. The chairman of the African Union is due to arrive today, the AP reports, but Odinga has dismissed Kibaki's offer of power-sharing talks as "gimmickry." Meanwhile, the top American envoy to Africa says the violence "hasn't shaken our confidence in Kenya as a regional hub." (Read more Kenya stories.)

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