KENYA: Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki says he is ready to form a national unity government with the opposition in order to end the violence that has plagued the nation since last week's disputed elections. Mr. Kibaki released a statement outlining his intentions today after meeting in Nairobi with the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Jendayi Frazer. The U.S. diplomat met earlier today with opposition leader Raila Odinga. Frazer is in Kenya to help bring an end to the unrest that broke out after Mr. Odinga accused Mr. Kibaki of rigging the December 27th election in his favor.
GEORGIA POL: Georgians are voting today in an election that will determine whether President Mikhail Saakashvili will be returned to office. The opposition has accused Mr. Saakashvili - an American-trained lawyer - of rigging the outcome of today's election, and has threatened to protest the results. Hundreds of international election observers are monitoring the vote. The pro-Western president called for today's vote in November after six days of mass opposition protests in Tblisi ended in violence. Mr. Saakashvili then resigned, as required by law, and registered as a candidate for re-election.
INDONESIA - SUHARTO: Indonesia's president says former dictator Suharto is in critical condition after being hospitalized Friday. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife visited the 86-year-old Mr. Suharto today at Jakarta's Pertamina Hospital, where he was admitted after suffering from low blood pressure and swelling throughout his body. Doctors said earlier in the day that the former dictator needs to be fitted with a second heart pacemaker and will likely have to undergo kidney dialysis.. The former president has been hospitalized numerous times in recent years for strokes and intestinal bleeding. Mr. Suharto has lived a secluded life since he was ousted from power in a pro-democracy uprising in 1998.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says an Iraqi soldier allegedly opened fire on U.S. troops during a joint patrol last week, killing two American soldiers. A military statement issued today said the incident happened in Ninewah province on December 26th, when U.S. and Iraqi Army soldiers were conducting operations to set up a combat outpost. It said three other American soldiers and a civilian interpreter were wounded in the shooting and that an investigation is underway. The statement said the alleged shooter fled the scene, but was identified by other Iraqi army personnel and was then apprehended.
US POLITICS: The Democratic and Republican U.S. presidential candidates will appear in nationally televised debates late today from the northeastern state of New Hampshire - site of the next in a series of party nominating votes. The back-to-back debates will be the first since Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee scored strong victories in Thursday's Iowa caucuses. The runners-up in both parties will attempt to slow Obama's and Huckabee's momentum heading into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary election.
BUSH - MIDEAST: President Bush says his trip to the Middle East next week is to encourage the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories to make progress on a peace agreement. Mr. Bush made the remark Friday in an interview with Alhurra, the U.S. Arabic language satellite television network. Mr. Bush also said he wants to convince U.S. allies in the Middle East that it is in their interests to support the peace process, and to remind people that the United States is committed to helping secure the region. President Bush also said the United States wants to see Lebanon free of Syrian influence.
PAKISTAN: The husband of slain Pakistani opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has again appealed for a U.N. investigation into her death. In an opinion piece published in the "Washington Post" today, Asif Ali Zardari said a probe conducted by the government of Pakistan will have no credibility. As he put it, "one does not put fox in charge of the henhouse." Zardari also urged "friends of democracy in the West, particularly the United States and Britain" to support his call for a U.N. investigation.
COLOMBIA - HOSTAGES: Colombian rebels have admitted they did not have a boy they promised to release last week with two other hostages. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, released a statement late Friday saying young Emmanuel had been turned over to a family in Bogota to keep him safe until his official release. Earlier Friday, Colombian officials said DNA test results indicate the three-year-old boy is the son of one of the hostages - former Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, who was kidnapped by FARC in 2002.
BURMA: The European Union's special envoy for Burma, Piero Fassino, has called on nations around the world to keep Burma at the top of their agenda. Speaking after talks Friday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his envoy in Burma, (Ibrahim Gambari) , Fassino said he plans to visit Asian countries soon to drum up support for coordinated pressure on the ruling generals. Fassino said the common goal of Asian countries should be to maintain stability in Burma in order to secure a political dialogue between the military rulers and the opposition.
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