Reporters on the Job

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Stop-and-Go in Nairobi: For a few moments Tuesday, when staff writer Scott Baldauf was stuck in traffic, and when his driver turned off the car to conserve fuel, Nairobi seemed to have returned to normal.

During the entire Kenyan election process – crammed between the public holidays of Christmas and New Year's Day – the East African nation's capital appeared to be a ghost town, "I thought that all my friends' complaints of Nairobi traffic were unfounded," says Scott.

But on Tuesday Scott saw the "real" Nairobi (see story).

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"In Kenya, all roads lead to Nairobi, and thus, the streets of the capital city are crammed full of trucks coming from the port of Mombasa, and buses coming from the far-flung provinces, aggressive taxi drivers, and cars of Nairobi's middle class and nouveau riche all trying to muscle each other aside," he says.

"But at about midday, the police moved in – thin, scared-looking young men wearing riot gear that made them look like extras in a bad samurai movie," says Scott. They were clearing the way for the first parliamentary sessions since the elections, and to prepare for opposition street demonstrations beginning Wednesday.

With the arrival of the police, everyone took the hint. "Almost in an instant, the city emptied. Knowing what might be ahead, I almost miss the traffic," Scott says. .

David Clark Scott

World editor

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