Obama Tries Personal Diplomacy in Kenya

U.S. presidential contender Barack Obama made time this week to call the leaders of warring factions in Kenya. Obama's father is Kenyan and a member Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga's tribe. Odinga is disputing the results of the recent Kenyan presidential election.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Senator Barack Obama is running hard for president of the United States, but this week he made time to lend his voice to try to stop the violence in Kenya, the home of his late father. Senator Obama recorded an appeal for the Voice of America, saying, now is not the time to throw a strong democracy away. Now is the time for this terrible violence to end. He has phoned opposition leader Raila Odinga and is reportedly still trying to get a call through to President Mwai Kibaki.

There's a special poignance to Mr. Obama's interest - he has family in western Kenya, an area that so far has not been touched by the violence. His grandmother, Sarah Hussein, told a Reuters reporter this week, I know my grandson will be number one because he is very bright.

Senator Obama's father was a member of the Luo tribe, like Raila Odinga. President Kibaki is Kikuyu, the tribe that has dominated Kenyan politics and independence. There is a joke among Kenyans that America will have a Luo president before Kenya does.

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