18/11/08 (B474) ALJAZEERA / Le Gouvernement somalien de transition au bord de l’effondrement. // Somali government ‘near collapse’ (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Somalia’s president has said his government is « on the verge of total collapse » as opposition fighters have taken control of large parts of the country.

« Most of the country is in the hands of Islamists and we are only in Mogadishu and Baidoa, where there is daily war, » Abdullahi Yusuf told 100 Somali legislators in neighbouring Kenya in remarks broadcast late on Saturday.

The transitional government in Somalia has struggled to enforce its control over the chaotic country and in 2006 needed assistance from the Ethiopian military to retake large areas of the country controlled by the Islamic Courts Union.

Since then government forces and their Ethiopian allies have come under near daily attack as the oppostion fighters have gradually re-established their influence.

« We, ourselves, are behind the problems and we are accountable in this world and in the hereafter. Islamists have been capturing all towns and now control Elasha. It is every man for himself if the government collapses, » Yusuf said.

« The Islamists kill city cleaners, they will not spare legislators. »

Cabinet disagreement

Yusuf blamed his government’s ineffectiveness partly on disagreements between him and Nur Hassan Hussein, Somalia’s prime minister.

Somalia has failed name the new cabinet despite being urged to do so by leaders from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda – at a meeting in October.

« The prime minister gave me a list of new cabinet ministers but I do not know how to approve names of those who destroyed our government when the constructive ones were excluded, » Yusuf said.

Hussein said Yusuf bore the responsibility for the crisis within the government.

« The Somali president is responsible for the failure of the transitional federal government to achieve its goal of forming a new cabinet, » he told reporters in Nairobi.

« It is unfortunate that the president has become the first to oppose the IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development] directives though he was one of the signatories. »

Opposition influence

The president’s remarks came after witnesses said that fighters from the al-Shabaab movement had captured the port town on Barawe, about 180km from the capital Mogadishu.

Earlier in the week the group seized the nearby town of Merka, which has a strategically important airstrip.

Even in Mogadishu, which remains nominally under government control, al- Shabaab fighters carry out public punishments, conduct training exercises and present themselves as an alternative government.

02/09/07 (B411) ALJAZEERA.NET : Yémen : une manifestation contre la hausse des prix tourne à la violence. Yemeni price protests turn violent (Info lecteur – En anglais)

Yemenis have joined a series of protests against rising prices [EPA]

At least one person has been killed and nine wounded in clashes between Yemeni police and demonstrators protesting against rising prices in the capital, Sanaa.

Yemen has banned protests organised without permission after opposition parties staged several protests in recent weeks to demand the government acts to curb rising prices.

Hussein Basaleh, the head of a human rights group in Sanaa, said on Sunday: « The demonstrator was killed during disturbances that lasted several hours. »

He said one of those wounded in Saturday’s clashes was in a critical condition and witnesses said police made several arrests.

Government officials say the rise is due to a sharp increase in the prices of commodities such as wheat in global markets.

The government has ordered state bodies to import goods and provide them at lower prices.

Retiree anger

About 100 people were arrested on Friday in the southern port city of Aden while preparing to demonstrate for better benefits for retired personnel but most were later freed, witnesses and officials said.

The Council for the Coordination of Retired Groups organised the protest to demand increased support for more than 60,000 retirees from the military and civil service, many of whom insist they were forced to stop work early.

On August 28 thousands of protesters gathered in Sanaa to call for the Yemeni government to resign because of falling living standards and rising food prices.

In July 2005, at least 22 people were killed and 375 wounded when police clashed with demonstrators during two days of protests in Sanaa and several provincial towns against a sharp rise in fuel prices.

Four out of 10 Yemenis live on less than $2 a day, according to Britain’s department for international development, which says Yemen’s oil, its main earnings source, is expected to dry up by 2015.

21/08/06 (B363-A) ALJAZEERA.NET : de nouvelles troupes éthiopiennes pénètrent en Somalie pour protéger le Gouvernement de transition. Une partie importante des troupes gouvernementales aurait déserté pour rejoindre les forces islamiques.

More Ethiopian troops enter Somalia

Sunday 20 August 2006, 18:19 Makka Time, 15:19 GMT

Numerous government troops have defected to the Islamists

Hundreds more Ethiopian troops have arrived in the town of Baidoa, the seat of Somalia’s largely powerless transitional government, officials and witnesses say.

The soldiers are reportedly taking over the security of an airport which was abandoned when government troops defected to the Islamic militia that controls the capital, Mogadishu, and much of the south of the country.

Witnesses said about 90 government troops went over to the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS), the latest in a series of defections.

Earlier, residents in Awdiinle, about 30km from Baidoa said they saw 11 trucks carrying about 300 heavily armed Ethiopian soldiers pass through.

« We have seen Ethiopian troops here in Awdiinle, » a resident told Reuters news agency. « They are advancing towards Baidoa. We know these are Ethiopian troops because of their trucks and their uniforms. »

The Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia, formerly called the Islamic Courts Union, said the soldiers came at the request of the government.

Protection

Ethiopia moved troops into Somalia last month to protect the Somali government from attacks by the increasingly powerful Islamists who it says are being supplied by neighbouring Eritrea.

Both countries have denied that Ethiopian troops are in the country, but Addis Ababa has threatened to « crush » the Islamic courts if they target the transitional government.

The Islamists have refused to participate in Arab League-mediated peace talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, until the Ethiopian troops pull out.

The latest deployment came as the Islamist movement announced it would organise a national forum to plan the country’s future, further bypassing the weak transitional government.

More than 14 internationally backed initiatives have failed to restore peace in Somalia, which plunged into lawlessness in 1991 after Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

19/08/06 (B363-A) Les activistes somaliens face à la colère des extrêmistes islamiques (Al Jazeera avec AFP / en anglais / info lecteur)

Thursday 17 August 2006, 19:27 Makka Time, 16:27 GMT

The Islamist group seized control of Mogadishu in June

Islamists controlling much of southern Somalia have broken up a meeting of religious leaders in the capital, further asserting their authority in the lawless nation.

Officials with the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS) said the conference of scholars and peace activists from al-Islah group in a Mogadishu hotel was illegal as it had not been approved.

Speaking after heavily armed men broke up the meeting on Thursday, a SICS spokesman said the meeting was not licensed and the organisers did not have permission to hold it.

Abdul Karim Ali Muddey said: « We have to be a community ruled by laws. People must seek permission to have a meeting, and we will licence it as long as the forum is not a threat to public safety or Islamic teachings. »

Members of al-Islah, a charity that operates Muslim clinics and schools throughout Somalia, confirmed that the meeting had been disbanded but declined to discuss the matter further.

The agenda for the conference was not clear, but the group has been pushing for a resumption of dialogue between the Islamists and Somalia’s increasingly weak and marginalised transitional government.

Faltering talks

Arab League-mediated talks between the two sides due to resume this week in Khartoum failed to take off after the Islamists demanded a delay and the withdrawal of Ethiopian soldiers alleged to be in Somalia to back the government.

During the first round of talks in June, both sides agreed to cease fire and recognise each other, but they have since traded accusations of violations.

The rise of the Islamists, who seized Mogadishu from regional commanders in June after months of fierce fighting and have rapidly expanded their territory since, poses a serious threat to the government’s already limited authority.

As they have moved beyond the capital, the Islamists have begun to enforce a strict interpretation of Shariah (Islamic law), closing down cinemas and photo shops and punishing what they consider to be un-Islamic behaviour.

Somalia has been without a functioning central authority for the past 16 years since the 1991 ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre.

AFP

07/08/06 (B362) Somalie : le Premier Ministre refuse de quitter son poste (Aljazeera.net : AFP)

Somali PM refuses to quit

Thursday 03 August 2006, 16:54 Makka Time, 13:54 GMT

Gedi was working to replace ministers who have resigned

The prime minister of Somalia has refused to resign despite a mass exodus of cabinet ministers and mounting criticism over the deployment of Ethiopian troops to protect his 18-month-old powerless administration.

Abdurahman Mohamed Nur Dinari, a government spokesman, said Ali Mohamed Gedi was instead working to replace the 36 ministers who have quit the 102-member cabinet in the past week.

The ministers called for Gedi’s resignation even after he escaped a vote of no confidence over the weekend.

"The prime minister is not going to resign. Instead he is consulting with the MPs who support him and clan elders to replace the ministers who have quit," Dinari told AFP from the government’s temporary base in Baidoa, about 250km northwest of Mogadishu, on Thursday.

"There is no legal basis for the prime minister to resign," he added.

Peace talks

Dinari spoke as Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden held private consultations after they disagreed with Gedi on whether to engage the Islamist militia in peace talks.

He said the fallout was caused by Yusuf and Aden insisting on sending delegates to the Arab League-mediated talks with the Islamists in Khartoum against Gedi’s call for a postponement of the second round talks.

"The prime minister made it clear that the two were not respecting the principle of separation of powers and that it was his responsibility to chose delegates," Dinari said.

Warnings

The Islamists, grouped under the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS), hold sway of much of southern Somalia, including the capital, which they seized after routing US-backed warlords in clashes that claimed at least 360 lives.

On Wednesday, the SICS chief Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys invited ministers who had resigned to join his movement and lashed out at Gedi for allowing the deployment of Ethiopian troops that has split the country.

The SICS have said that they will not participate in the talks until the Ethiopian troops pull back, with some Islamists calling for war against their northern neighbour.

The United Nations, the United States and other Western countries have warned that any interference by Somalia’s neighbours might scupper efforts to achieve lasting peace in the country.

The Somali government, formed in Kenya in late 2004 after more than two years of peace talks, was seen as the best chance for the lawless nation to set up a functioning administration since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

AFP

02/07/06 (B357-A) Aljazeera.net : l’Ethiopie dément avoir pénétré en territoire somalien. (Contrairement aux informations données hier par des sources somaliennes et reprises sur Allafrica.com) (En anglais – info lecteur)

Ethiopia denies Somalia incursion

Sunday 02 July 2006, 0:16 Makka Time, 21:16 GMT

Islamists have taken control of much of Somalia

Ethiopia has denied that its troops crossed into Somalia on Saturday to protect the interim government seat of Baidoa from an attack by the powerful Islamists movement.

A member of parliament in Somalia said that six armoured vehicles from Ethiopia had moved into the Baidoa airport. A Somali intelligence source said the Ethiopian troops were in the town of Berdale, about 60km from Baidoa towards the border with Ethiopia.

The Islamists, who took the capital Mogadishu on June 5 and control a large swathe of the country after defeating secular US-backed warlords, have repeatedly said that Ethiopia has sent troops into Somalia.

« Ethiopia denies the allegation by Somalia sources that its troops have crossed the border, » Zemedhun Tekle, the spokesman for the Ethiopian ministry of information, said.

« The allegation is the usual fabrication of the Islamists group aimed at hoodwinking the international community. »

Ethiopian allegation

Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s prime minister, said this week that the Islamists movement was dominated by members of a terrorist group and that Addis Ababa had beefed up its defences along the border to prevent any threat from the Islamists.

Largely secular Ethiopia has long been wary of the influence of Islam in the region.

The Somali member of parliament said that the Ethiopia troops had moved to the southern city of Baidoa to protect the interim government of President Abdullahi Yusuf.

« The Ethiopians want to protect the government but I think it is aimed at creating a problem between the government and the Islamic Courts, » the MP, who declined to be named, said.