ABC NEWS: Kenyans reach out to receive food aid 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 States as the death toll from a week of violence reached nearly 500. (Riccardo Gangale/AP Photo)
SWAMPLAND: One of the more extraordinary stories of the Obama campaign has been playing out behind the scenes over the past week as the candidate has been working on a daily basis to try to calm things down in his father’s homeland and his grandmother’s home, Kenya, where a contested election has led to riots.
On January 1, two days before the Iowa caucuses, Obama left a message for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. According to Robert Gibbs, Obama’s Communications Director, Rice called back “as we were driving from Sioux City to Council Bluffs on January 1. They talked about the situation and Rice asked Obama to tape a Voice of America message calling for calm.” Obama taped the message on January 2, after a rally in Davenport, Iowa.
On January 3, the day of the caucuses, he had a conversation with Bishop Desmond Tutu, who had flown to Nairobi to see if he could begin negotiations with the factions. In the days since his Iowa victory, Obama has had near-daily conversations with the U.S. Ambassador in Kenya or with opposition leader Raila Odinga. As of late this afternoon, before his rally in Rochester, N.H., Obama was trying to reach Kenyan President Kibaki. MORE
ROOTS: The Dude Abides
A photograph taken in 1987 of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama and his grandmother Sarah Hussein Obama hangs in her home in the village of Nyagoma-Kogelo, western Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008. Barack Obama phoned Kenya’s opposition leader as diplomatic attempts to end Kenya’s political crisis intensified Tuesday. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic) MORE