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January 2008





Editors' Notes

Pakistan Blog



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Suharto: Death of a Dictator

Obama: The Kenya Connection

Pakistan: Blackout

Belize: Andy Palacio, 1960-2008

Kenya: Runners at Risk



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Suharto: Death of a Dictator


Suharto pictured in 1998, the year of his resignation following international pressure. [Image: Creative Commons]

Editor's Note: For those with long memories, the death this week of Indonesia's former strongman, Suharto, recalls one of the darkest chapters of the Cold War era, in which a million or more Indonesians were killed in 1965 and 1966 during Suharto's rise to power. Though dramatized in the 1983 movie, "The Year of Living Dangerously," these mass executions, mainly of alleged communists, are a subject Indonesia's military and politicians prefer to ignore.

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Obama: The Kenya Connection

Barack Obama.

U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful, Barack Obama. Image: The Obama Campaign [Creative Commons]


Editor's Note: Throughout this year's U.S. presidential election, FRONTLINE/World will provide reporting and commentary from an international perspective, presenting dispatches and videos from our correspondents abroad and from immigrant communities within the United States. As part of this coverage, we will be teaming up with Public Radio International's daily news program, The World.

If we Kenyans were granted one wish for 2008, we would request the right to vote for Democratic Senator Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential elections. There would be no more questions about whether he is "black enough."

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Pakistan: Blackout

Editor's Note: David Montero reports from Pakistan for our upcoming February 26th broadcast story, Pakistan: State of Emergency. Stay tuned for more dispatches and interview excerpts from his recent visit to the North West Frontier of Pakistan where young radical extremists allied to the Taliban are taking control of much of the region.

Talat Hussain's television studio in Islamabad looked like a ghost town. There was no one to operate the cameras, and no guests seated on the set. His political talk show, "Live With Talat," had been unceremoniously pulled off the air by the government just weeks before Pakistan's national elections, then scheduled for January 8th.

Hussain, whose 6-foot frame and good looks give him the appearance of an actor, does not hesitate to say why his TV station was censored.

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Belize: Andy Palacio, 1960-2008

Andy Palacio in Belize. Photo: Marco Werman.

Editor's Note: We were saddened to learn of the sudden death last weekend of Andy Palacio, a wonderful singer and bandleader from Belize who spread his beloved Garifuna music around the world. Our music reporter, Marco Werman, had interviewed Palacio for our January 2004 FRONTLINE/World story, "The Exile's Song," and we sampled his songs on our Web site.

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Kenya: Runners at Risk

Lornah Kiplagat

Lornah Kiplagat at her high-altitude training center in Kenya in 2004.

An interview with Lornah Kiplagat

She's still trying to train at her camp in the highlands of western Kenya, but renowned runner Lornah Kiplagat is shaken by the recent turmoil in her village, Iten, and the violence which engulfed the nearby city of Eldoret, where a mob set fire to a church, killing more than 50 people who had taken shelter there.

Marathoner Luke Kibet was injured during an attack in downtown Eldoret, and a former member of Kenya's Olympic team, Lucas Sang, was hacked to death.

The violence was triggered December 30th when the government of President Mwai Kibaki announced he had been re-elected, despite early returns showing that the challenger, Raila Odinga, had a substantial lead. Since then, Odinga's supporters, mainly from the Luo tribe, have clashed repeatedly with Kibaki's followers, who are generally from the Kikuyu majority.

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Kenya: Playing the Tribe Card

Edwin Okong'o.

Kenyan-born journalist, Edwin Okong'o.

Editor's Note: In the wake of the ongoing ethnic violence that has erupted in Kenya following the disputed outcome of the December 27 presidential election, FRONTLINE/World journalist Edwin Okong'o, a Kenyan, explains the tribal rift in his country and how it has been exploited by rival politicians.

Already, more than 500 people, mainly women and children, have been killed in the slums of the capital, Nairobi, and in the western region. African and U.S. mediators are trying to avert an escalating conflict in a country that has, till now, been one of the more stable in Africa.

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Pakistan: The Aftermath

burned out vehicle.

Correspondent Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Editor's Note: In her fifth and final dispatch from Pakistan, our correspondent Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy wraps up her preview of an election that never happened -- postponed due to the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Dec. 27.

Look for more FRONTLINE/World reports from Pakistan in the coming weeks, including reporter David Montero's video about the conflict between Taliban insurgents and the Pakistani military in the Swat Valley.

When I arrived in Pakistan six weeks ago, I found the country's civil society reinvigorated. In my hometown, Karachi, students, lawyers and activists were all agitating against President Pervez Musharraf's emergency rule. They were united in their cause to restore an independent judiciary. This was the first time my generation had witnessed a movement like this. There was a sense that whatever the outcome, Pakistan would emerge stronger. Finally, its educated classes were making a noise, were concerned about the direction their country was taking.

But things unraveled very quickly.

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Kenya: Notes from Nairobi

Kenyan slums in flames.

Ethnic violence following the Kenyan elections has left half a million people in need of humanitarian aid.

Editor's Note: The post-election ethnic violence between the majority Kikuyu and minority Luo that exploded in Kenya this week, leaving some 300 dead, has subsided for the moment. But the country remains tense, especially in Nairobi's slums.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has met separately with President Kibaki, a Kikuyu, and his rival candidate, Raila Odinga, a Luo, who accuses the government of stealing the election. Tutu urged the politicians "to get their act together" and come to the bargaining table, before Kenya, which is considered a relatively stable and prosperous country, unravels.

A UN employee sent us this message.

Here in Nairobi, the UN's headquarters in Africa has been closed down for the past week. This has affected the major humanitarian pipelines in this region: Kenya serves the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan, Darfur and Somalia where millions depend on food and UN aid that comes in from Kenya by road and air.

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Pakistan: Burn, Baby, Burn

burned out vehicle.

Burned out cars litter the streets of Karachi following the violence.

Editor's Note: In a televised speech to the nation Jan. 2, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf vowed that the army and police would crackdown forcefully on any renewed violence, and he appealed for calm in preparation for elections now postponed until Feb. 18. But as our reporter Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy writes from Karachi, the city is still tense after Benazir Bhutto's assassination and emotions are raw.

As dawn broke in Karachi the day after Benazir Bhutto's assassination, its residents woke to find their city looted and vandalized. After a night of rioting, an eerie silence hung in the air, as business owners surveyed the damage.

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