[dehai-news] (AP) Kenya to impose sanctions on Somali president


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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Tue Dec 16 2008 - 09:00:06 EST


Kenya to impose sanctions on Somali president

By TOM MALITI 3 hours ago Dec. 16, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) Kenya announced sanctions against the Somali president
Tuesday, a strong public rebuke to a man who has been increasingly
marginalized as his country struggles with a powerful insurgency and piracy
off the coast.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said Somali President
Abdullahi Yusuf was an obstacle to peace. The sanctions, which also apply to
Yusuf's family, include a travel ban and freezing any assets in Kenya.

"The region and international community should act in unison to collectively
condemn all spoilers to the Somali peace process," Wetangula told
journalists.

Wetangula said Kenya took the action in line with a November decision by an
eastern Africa regional group to impose sanctions against Somali leaders
identified as an obstacle to peace. Kenya is home to more than 215,000
Somali refugees and acts as the base of all U.N. and international NGO
operations in Somalia. Many Somali leaders have family, property or
businesses in Kenya.

Somalia's already weak government is in turmoil. Yusuf unilaterally fired
Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein this week after months of public feuds
over the best way to bring peace. But parliament soundly rejected Yusuf's
decision and voted to keep the prime minister in his post.

On Tuesday, Yusuf ignored that and announced that he was appointing a former
interior minister, Mohamed Mohamud Guled, as the new prime minister.

Wetangula said that Kenya only recognized Hussein as prime minister, saying
Yusuf did not have the power to fire him. Kenya was the venue of the
two-year-long peace talks that formed Yusuf's government in 2004.

It's not clear what will become of Somalia's U.N.-backed administration
particularly as it wields virtually no authority in the face of powerful
Islamic insurgents who have taken over most of the country. But the
long-running dispute between the president and prime minister will do
nothing to stabilize the fractured administration.

The government has been sidelined by Islamic militants and is veering toward
collapse. The insurgents held a news conference in the capital, Mogadishu,
on Sunday a brazen move that shows their increasing power and vowed
never to negotiate with the leadership.

Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991, when warlords
overthrew a dictatorship and then turned on one another. The country is now
at a dangerous crossroads.

Ethiopia, which has been protecting the Somali government, recently
announced it would withdraw its troops by the end of this month. That will
leave the government vulnerable to Islamic insurgents, who began a brutal
insurgency in 2007.

In the past, Islamists have brought a semblance of security to the country,
but have done it by carrying out public executions and floggings. On
Saturday, fighters loyal to the most powerful arm of the Islamist movement
al-Shabab publicly executed two men accused of killing their parents.

Civilians have suffered most from the violence surrounding the insurgency,
with thousands killed or maimed by mortar shells, machine-gun crossfire and
grenades. The United Nations says there are 300,000 acutely malnourished
children in Somalia, but attacks and kidnappings of aid workers have shut
down many humanitarian projects.

The lawlessness allows piracy to flourish off the coast; bandits have taken
in about $30 million in ransom this year.

The United States worries Somalia could be a terrorist breeding ground, and
accuses al-Shabab "The Youth" of harboring the al-Qaida-linked
terrorists who blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

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