- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2008

Appeal from Kenya

The Embassy of Kenya is urging Kenyans in the Washington area to prevent the political chaos in the East African nation from poisoning relations among Kenyans living abroad.

“We ask you all to embrace the true Kenyan spirit of tolerance and harmonious coexistence,” the embassy said in a message posted on its Web site (www.kenyaembassy. com).

Kenya, a nation of 37 million residents from more than 40 tribes, has long been considered one of Africa’s most stable democracies, but the disputed Dec. 27 election unleashed an unprecedented wave of violence that has claimed between 500 and 600 lives and left about 255,000 Kenyans homeless.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of stealing votes to ensure his re-election, though Mr. Odinga’s party won more than twice the number of seats in the legislative elections, held on the same day.

The United States sent Jendayi E. Frazer, assistant secretary of State for Africa, and the African Union sent its chairman, President John

Kufuor of Ghana, to Kenya to try to promote talks between the two leaders. The Associated Press reported yesterday that former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, also from Ghana, will take over the AU mediation effort. Earlier this week, the U.S. Agency for International Development donated $200,000 in emergency relief supplies to the Kenya Red Cross Society.

The embassy urged Kenyans in the United States to help promote a “national healing process.”

“We particularly urge you all to be part of the peaceful solution, not part of the problem, by engaging in civil exchange, promoting unity and preserving the cordial relationship among the Kenya diaspora community,” it said.

“Admittedly, we recognize that we naturally all have divergent, even conflicting, views and opinions, particularly over the current situation in Kenya.”

Promoting English

Cameron R. Hume, the U.S. ambassador in Indonesia, devised a unique way to promote the English language in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Mr. Hume and the public affairs bureau of the U.S. Embassy in capital Jakarta joined an Indonesian television production firm to sponsor a quiz show designed to demonstrate contestants’ proficiency in English. The winners will be rewarded with trips to the United States that will be videotaped and aired on the program.

“English is the language of opportunity, a language that opens doors,” Mr. Hume said.

The show, called “Indonesian FUNtastic Squad,” premiered on TVRI television Sunday at the Hard Rock Cafe in Jakarta.

It featured public high-school students from Jakarta and three other towns, competing against one another by answering questions about American and Indonesian history, culture and society. They will continue over 32 episodes until the contestants are narrowed to a final four, who will win the trips.

The program is the first English-language quiz show in the Southeast Asian nation of more than 238 million citizens, who mostly speak English as a second language behind the native language, Bahasa Indonesia.

Top tank

The International Crisis Group (ICG) this week earned recognition as one of the world’s most premier public-policy institutes.

The ICG was named one of the top 10 think tanks in a survey of 2,000 U.S.-based policy research foundations and 3,000 more in other countries by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

ICG’s president, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, called the result “gratifying” but added that his group is not really a think tank.

“We prefer to call ourselves a global conflict prevention and resolution organization,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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