[dehai-news] AP: Somali government splits amid fight for control


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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Dec 16 2008 - 16:21:28 EST


Somali government splits amid fight for control

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press Writer Mohamed Olad Hassan,
Associated Press Writer - Tue Dec 16, 9:45 am ET

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia's U.N.-backed government was crumbling Tuesday
as the president defied parliament and Kenya announced sanctions against him
in a strong public rebuke.

The government dispute will do nothing to stabilize the administration,
which wields virtually no authority in the face of powerful Islamic
insurgents who have taken over most of the country.

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 States worries that 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.

Somalia's lawlessness also has allowed piracy to flourish off the coast;
bandits have taken in about $30 million in ransom this year.

President Abdullahi 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.

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

Just hours later, Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said Yusuf
was an obstacle to peace and announced sanctions, including 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.

It was not immediately clear when the sanctions would go into effect, but
they are a powerful charge because Kenya hosted the two-year-long peace
talks that formed Yusuf's government in 2004.

Somalia's U.N.-backed administration 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.

___

Associated Press writers Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu, Somalia and Tom
Maliti in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.

 

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