Somali President criticised for anti-Kenya comments
Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:52am GMT
* Residents demonstrate over Somali president's comments
* Kenyans on edge after grenade attacks in capital
By Sahra Abdi and Abdi Sheikh
MOGADISHU, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed came
under fire on Tuesday for casting doubt on the government's support for a
Kenyan incursion into the south of the Horn of Africa nation to take on
Ahmed said on Monday the Somali government was not happy with the deployment
of Kenyan soldiers across the border because the incursion went beyond an
initial agreement for logistical support for Somali soldiers.
Kenya sent thousands of troops and heavy weapons into Somalia 10 days ago in
a campaign to push Somalia's al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels away from the
border, following a series of kidnappings by Somali gunmen on Kenyan soil.
Kenyan soldiers have advanced on several fronts along with Somali troops and
allied militias but there has yet to be a serious showdown with al Shabaab.
The first major confrontation is expected to be in the strategic transit
town of Afmadow.
In the Somali town of Dhobley near the border with Kenya, hundreds of
demonstrators took to the streets on Tuesday waving Kenyan and Somali flags
and burning pictures of the president.
"We want Kenya and Somalia to fight al Shabaab in every corner. We do not
have any other hope for life," Gedi Farah, an elder from the Dhobley area,
told Reuters by phone.
"Kenya, do not believe the words of our weak, mad president. Please fight al
Shabaab and go deep into Somalia. We want to return to our homes," he said.
Somali military officials and a spokesman for the pro-government Ras Kamboni
militia urged the demonstrators to calm down, saying the president's remarks
were not in line with the Somali government's position.
"The Somali government does not support al Shabaab. It is only the president
and that will be solved," said Colonel Yasin Warfa, a government military
KENYA ON EDGE
Since being elected as president in 2009 under a U.N.-hosted peace process,
Ahmed has failed to stamp any authority on a country that has lacked
effective central government control for two decades.
Since launching an insurgency in 2007, al Shabaab has seized large chunks of
southern and central Somalia and is still battling government troops and
African Union soldiers from Uganda and Burundi in parts of the capital
The group includes hundreds of foreign fighters who are urging jihad against
the Western-backed government and al Shabaab has also struck outside
Somalia, killing 79 people in the Ugandan capital Kampala last year.
The group's stated goal is to impose its own harsh version of sharia law
throughout the country. Al Shabaab metes out punishments such as stonings
and amputations and bans music, movies and soccer in areas it controls.
Al Shabaab has threatened to take the "war of flames" to Kenya too. Two
grenade attacks in the capital Nairobi on Monday killed one person and
wounded nearly 30, although Kenyan police chiefs have not yet drawn a direct
link with the Somali rebels.
Al Shabaab officials have also declined to comment on the twin blasts in
Nairobi that have put Kenyans on edge and prompted police to beef up
security around potential targets, such as shopping malls and nightclubs.
A moderate Sufi militia in Somalia, Ahlu Sunna, that has supported the
government's fight against al Shabaab, also weighed in against President
"Sherif, if you cannot, or do not want to oust al Shabaab, let Kenya do it
for the sake of the suffering Somalis," spokesman Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh
Abu Yusuf told Reuters.
"All Somalis support Kenya and no one will join al Shabaab. People are tired
of al Shabaab," he said. (Writing by David Clarke; Editing by Giles Elgood)
WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The United States is increasing food aid to
drought-hit and strife-torn Horn of Africa nations where millions of people
are at risk of starvation and malnutrition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said on Monday.
"I am pleased to announce that we are providing an additional $100 million,
primarily in food assistance, for drought-affected areas in Ethiopia, Kenya,
and Somalia," Clinton said in remarks prepared for delivery at a U.N. World
Food Program awards ceremony.
Clinton said the new funds were in addition to almost $650 million for food
and humanitarian assistance the United States had already provided.
The United Nations says about 3.6 million people are at risk of starvation
in Somalia and about 12 million people across the Horn of Africa region,
including in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Aid agencies say they have been unable to reach more than 2 million Somalis
facing starvation in territories held by the al Qaeda-afiliated al Shabaab
Clinton said the additional U.S. support would help relief workers reach
more people well into next year.
"Tens of thousands of people, mostly children, have already died," Clinton
said. "As many as 750,000 people are currently experiencing famine-level
conditions. And of course, that then sparks a refugee crisis."
"And in Somalia, we face the unpleasant reality of al-Shabaab curtailing
access for relief workers and denying people food and medical aid," Clinton
Al Shabaab has been waging an insurgency against the UN-backed government in
Somalia since 2007. It controls large parts of southern and central Somalia,
as well as chunks of the capital, Mogadishu.
The Islamist militants, hostile to any Western intervention, have blocked
humanitarian deliveries in the past, saying aid creates dependency.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Eric Walsh)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Tue Oct 25 2011 - 16:09:19 EDT