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Other News: In Kenya, Clinton Pushes for Accountability

August 5, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
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GWEN IFILL: In other news today, Secretary of State Clinton took aim at graft and corruption at the start of an African trip. She made Kenya the first stop on her seven-nation tour, visiting a farm and later addressing a conference of African leaders.

Clinton warned that economic progress in Africa depends on rejecting corruption. She singled out Kenya for failing to implement reforms after a violent election in 2007.

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn into office for a second term. Outside the inauguration, hundreds of demonstrators protested the disputed election outcome.

We have a report narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: It was a subdued affair. President Ahmadinejad walked in accompanied by the head of the judiciary and other senior clerics.

But this ceremony was all about who wasn’t there. Many seats remained empty, as two previous presidents stayed away, along with two former parliamentary speakers and most reformist MPs. State TV didn’t show it, but others walked out when the president began to speak.

He swore on the Koran to protect the system of the Islamic republic and its constitution. In the chamber: foreign ambassadors, the British included, although Gordon Brown and other E.U. leaders haven’t sent the customary letters of congratulation.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, president, Iran (through translator): Nobody in Iran is waiting for your congratulations. The Iranian nation does not give importance neither to your frowns and threats nor to your congratulations and smiles.

LINDSEY HILSUM: The cheering may not help him form a government. Some of his conservative allies dislike the friends and relatives he’s indicated he’d like to appoint. And the supreme leader has already vetoed his choice of his son’s father-in-law as vice president.

On the streets, protesters gathered. Six weeks ago, they were calling for a re-run of the election. That’s not going to happen. Now they’re protesting against the system itself and the Basij militia and Revolutionary Guard, who have used brute force to guarantee Mr. Ahmadinejad’s position.

As they came up the escalator on the underground, they shouted, “Death to the dictator.”

Tomorrow, more protesters and those accused of organizing dissent are expected to appear in court, despite widespread allegations that they’ve been tortured.

President Ahmadinejad will struggle to assert his authority as competing centers of power are likely to squabble over who controls the levers of government.

GWEN IFILL: In a related development, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs backed away from his statement yesterday when he said Ahmadinejad was Iran’s “elected leader.” Today, Gibbs said, “That’s not for me to pass judgment on.” He said Iranians will decide if the election was fair.

Former Congressman William Jefferson has been convicted in a federal bribery case. The Louisiana Democrat was found guilty on 11 of 16 counts at his trial in Alexandria, Va. He was accused of taking more than $400,000 in bribes while in office to broker business deals in Africa. Federal agents found $90,000 in his home freezer. Jefferson was defeated in his re-election bid last year.

In economic news, a closely watched survey found activity in the service sector was down in July, but the Commerce Department reported factory orders rose in June for the fourth time in the last five months.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 39 points to close just under 9,281. The Nasdaq fell 18 points to close at 1,993.