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Friday, August 31, 2012

Election of new Somalia parliament speaker widely welcomed


MOGADISHU (Xinhua) -- The election by Somali lawmakers of new parliament speaker was welcomed by top Somali leaders and general public as a positive step toward ending the transition.

Outgoing Somali president sheikh Sharif sheikh Ahmed said the election of law expert Mohamed Osman Jawari as the new speaker of the country’s legislature will herald new era for Somalia and congratulated the new speaker.

Jawari, a former minister under the Said Barre government, won the post after the four candidates who qualified for second round decided to opt out and left the race as Jawari had huge lead with 119 votes, just 20 votes short of outright win in the first round.

Authorities in the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland also welcomed Jawari’s winning the position.

The regional administration called on the new speaker to adhere to and implement the provisions of the Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia.

The parliament will also elect the First and Second deputy speakers of the newly-inaugurated legislature. After the election of the speaker and deputy speakers, the parliament will also vote for a new president.

Authorities expressed hope that the Somali presidential election will be conducted similarly in a fair and transparent manner and encouraged Federal Parliamentarians to elect the most capable and trustworthy person as President of the Federal Republic of Somalia “at this critical juncture in our history.”
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AMISOM troops kill 42 Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia

Troops of the African Union Misson in Somalia (AMISOM) who are battling in Somalia on Wednesday killed 42 Al-Shabaab militants while scores escaped with multiple injuries as military operation to flush out insurgents intensifies in the Horn of Africa nation.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said the battle which took place in Aglibah area near Beles Qooqani in southern Somalia early on Wednesday saw AMISOM forces recover 23 AK 47 rifles, six rocket propelled grenades, 428 rounds of ammunition and other assorted weapons. "AMISOM forces together with TFG soldiers in sector two conducted a raid at an Al-Shabaab stronghold base in Aglibah area near Beles Qooqani on Aug. 29. The raid neutralized 42 Al-Shabaab militias with scores of others escaping with multiple injuries," Chirchir said in a statement released in Nairobi.

Chirchir said four Al-Shabaab technical vehicles; one water bowser, one lorry and logistic supplies were destroyed as the war against al Qaida-allied terror group continues in the Horn of African nation. "One TFG soldier sustained minor injuries and was flown to Dobley for medical attention. The joint forces have since occupied the area and are carrying out pacification operations," Chirchir said.

The development comes as the military has stepped up security along the common border with Somalia as the AU forces extend their major onslaught on the insurgents blamed for bomb and grenade attacks in Kenya's territory. The Kenyan forces currently under the command of AMISOM are dealing with specific targets against the Al-Shabaab, but security has been stepped on the Kenyan side of the border.

Al-Shabaab has vowed reprisal attacks in the country, mainly targeting security forces in border towns of northern Kenya where dozens of people have been killed in landmine and grenade attacks blamed on the militant group. Al-Shabaab has said it views the presence of Kenyan troops in southern Somalia as an act of war. The group which has teamed up with global terror network al Qaida is now vowing an all-out war in Kenya, in protest against the military incursion "against our brothers in Somalia."
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Somali Parliament Elects Speaker for New Gov’t

Somalia's parliament has elected a new speaker, taking a major step in a U.N.-backed plan to create a stronger and more permanent government.

Mohamed Osman Jawari won the speaker's post in a vote by legislators in Mogadishu Tuesday. Jawari held a significant lead after the first round of voting, and was named speaker after his opponent in a planned run-off dropped out.

The 66-year-old Jawari served as transportation minister and minister of labor and sports under former President Mohamed Siad Barre. He also headed a committee that held public discussions on a draft constitution that was provisionally adopted last month.

Parliament's next task is to elect Somalia's new president. More than 60 people have declared themselves candidates, including the incumbent, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

The new parliament met for the first time on August 20, ending an eight-year transitional government that was plagued by infighting and ineffectiveness.

The United Nations and international partners have said Somalia now has an unprecedented opportunity to end more than two decades of chaos.

The Horn of Africa nation has endured instability and unrest since 1991, when warlords overthrew the last stable government.
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Kenyan airstrikes kill 36 in Somalia

Kenyan war planes have attacked a base, run by Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters near the town of Afmadow, killing at least 25 militants and 11 civilians, Press TV reports.

According to a statement released by Somali military officer, Hussein Haj Dable, three Kenyan fighter jets have attacked camps of al-Shabab militants in Tortora village, located five kilometers southeast of Afmadow, on Thursday afternoon, killing 25 militants. 

At least 11 civilians, including children and women have also lost their lives by missiles fired by Kenyan warplanes, Haj Dable added. 

The Kenyan forces, currently under the command of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), are dealing with specific al-Shabab targets, but security has also been stepped up on the Kenyan side of the border.

Kenya regularly carries out airstrikes in the Somali border regions. 

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. 

The weak Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab for the past five years and is propped up by a thousands strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti. 

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Kismayo capture imminent, military spokesmen say

Military officials say the Somali military, supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), will take Kismayo from al-Shabaab soon, Kenya's Daily Nation reported Thursday (August 30th). 

Somali military spokesman for the Juba region Aden Ahmed Hirsi said that troops have nearly surrounded Kismayo. "We are committed to remove [al-Shabaab's] black banner and raise Somalia's blue-colour flag all over Jubaland," he said.

"We are going to employ a carefully crafted strategy to seize Kismayo," said Brigadier General Ismael Sahardeed, commander of Somali forces in Juba. "We are employing military tactics to capture the town within a week."

Their comments follow the seizure of Marka from al-Shabaab on Monday and clashes between Afmadow and Kismayo on Thursday that left 60 al-Shabaab militants dead, according to Sahardeed.

"AMISOM is committed to supporting the peace process in Somalia and this operation will not only bring relief to the population in Marka, but will also help in the liberation of Kismayo,” said AMISOM commander Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti.
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Somalia sets presidential election for Sept 10

Somalia’s parliament will hold a presidential election on September 10, the final stage of a UN-backed process to set up a new administration for the war-torn country, an election official said on Friday.

“September 10, 2012, is the day that the presidential elections of the Somali Federal Republic will take place,” Osman Libah Ibrahim, spokesman for the presidential elections committee, told reporters. The new parliament, whose members were selected this month by a group of traditional elders, will vote in a secret ballot.

The election has already been delayed several times - having already missed an August 20 deadline - but international pressure has increased on lawmakers to hold the vote swiftly. At least a dozen candidates are expected to run for the top job, although officials will only begin accepting applications from September 3.

However, bitter arguments have begun between rival challengers, divided along Somalia’s notoriously fractious clan lines, and the United Nations Security Council repeated warnings this week of “intimidation and corruption”. The council warned of its “willingness to take action against individuals whose acts threaten the peace, stability or security of Somalia.”

Outgoing president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, in power since 2009, is one of the favourites, though he cuts a controversial figure with Western observers. A UN report in July said that under his presidency, “systematic embezzlement, pure and simple misappropriation of funds and theft of public money have become government systems” — claims Sharif has rejected.

Veteran politician and former minister Mohamed Osman Jawari, a legal expert who helped draft a new constitution for Somalia, was elected speaker on Tuesday by fellow lawmakers. Candidates will give their campaign speeches to parliament from September 7. Somalia is trying to set up its first stable central government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, which sparked rounds of bloody civil war.

The political developments come as African Union and Somali troops make significant gains against the al Qaeda linked Shebab, although the rebels remain a major security threat. Ethiopian troops are also battling the militants from the south and west. The extremist insurgents this week abandoned the port of Marka, leaving the Shebab with two major ports in southern Somalia - Barawe and the key rebel bastion of Kismayo - although an international naval blockade has already greatly squeezed maritime access there. afp
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Mogadishu University welcomes more than 1,500 new students

More than 1,500 recently graduated high-school students were welcomed into Mogadishu University on Thursday (August 30th) after passing the university's entrance exams, Somalia's Radio Risaala reported. 

University Chancellor Ali Sheikh Ahmed Abubakar, who spoke at the welcoming ceremony, said that Mogadishu was in need of higher standards for learning, which the university will provide by offering quality education.

According to a statement on the university's website, Abubakar said interest in university studies had increased. "This year is different from the previous years for the huge number of the students who participated in the entrance exam of the university."

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