IRIN Horn of Africa Update: 1 September
Somalia's newly elected president, Abdiqasim Salad Hasan said the country's "warlords" should abide by the wishes of the people, who wanted peace and stability. Speaking in an interview with the BBC on Thursday, he added that he was not worried about them being opposed to his new interim administration. Speaking from the capital, Mogadishu, he said his first priority would be to ensure the safety and security of every Somali. He said the militias should be retrained and provided the skills to earn a living.
On the self-declared regions of Puntland and Somaliland, whose leaders boycotted the Djibouti-hosted peace process and do not recognise the election of Abdiqassim, he reiterated the sanctity of Somalia unity. Asked about his prominent profile under former president Muhammad Siyad Barreh, he said most politicians, military men and intellectuals had served under him, including those who were now criticising him.
He also said he planned to visit Kismayo, Belet-weyn, and Baidoa. He denied there were security problems in Kismayo, and said he had received invitations from Kismayo to visit the contested southern port.
SOMALIA: Washington pleased at developments
The United States said this week it was "encouraged" by the election of President Abdiqasim Salad Hasan and the creation of a new interim administration in Somalia. In widely reported statements, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Sunday's swearing-in of the new president and the establishment of an interim parliament, the Transitional National Assembly (TNA) "were positive developments."
In his daily briefing on Thursday, Boucher said "we're encouraged by the results of the peace conference that was held in Djibouti. The establishment of a transitional government for Somalia, including the election of the president, are positive developments." Boucher urged the new government "to reach out to those areas of Somalia, such as Somaliland, which have already done much to reestablish stability, security and representative local administration". He said all Somalia's should support the new president.
"The key to success of the newly created Somalia government will depend on whether or not it reflects the will of the Somalia people and its ability to govern effectively," he said. Somalia's new president has already received public backing from the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.
SOMALIA: Protests in north
Meanwhile, thousands of people in Somaliland denounced the new president as a relic of the past, serving as a stiff reminder to the Djibouti government of the challenge that lay ahead, news reports said on Friday. In Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, protesters burned Somali and Djibouti flags while many held placards reading: "No more unity", or "Down with Djibouti" Similar demonstrations were reported in the port of Berbera on Wednesday.
Somaliland, a former British protectorate, has enjoyed relative stability compared with other parts of Somalia, which dissolved into clan-based civil war and anarchy after the 1991 overthrow of Muhammad Siyad Barreh.
SOMALIA: Food situation report
The USAID Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) has reported largely unsatisfactory food production prospects in Somalia, particularly in the south, due to inadequate rainfall. In its latest report this week, it said rainfall in June had been less than expected, with the last 10 days of the month being completely dry. Low river levels were also causing concern.
The report said that a survey conducted by FSAU and FAO field monitors in the south had revealed good prospects for the sorghum and maize crops as the result of well-distributed rainfall in early May, but that parts of Gedo Bakol and the Juba valley were adversely affected by dry spells.
ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Annan says 19 countries to send peacekeepers
In an effort to speed up deployment of UN solders on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has informed the Security Council that 19 member states from around the world were ready to contribute troops to the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.
Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a ceasefire to end a two-year border war in June. Brokered by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the deal called for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in a buffer zone 25 km into Eritrean territory. The spokesman said the mission intended to deploy an initial group of 100 military observers in coming weeks. These unarmed troops would carry out various tasks, including maintaining liaison with the parties in the field, setting up a mechanism to verify the cessation of hostilities, and assisting in planning for the peacekeeping operation.
The countries which pledged to contribute troops so far include observers are Algeria, Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Ghana, India, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Ukraine, Uraguay and Zambia.
ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Russia to enforce arms embargo
Moscow has said it will enforce a UN embargo on arms sales to Ethiopia and Eritrea, according to an AFP dispatch on Thursday quoting a statement by the Russian presidency. In an effort to end the border war between the two African nations, the UN Security Council on 17 May voted to ban all weapons sales to Ethiopia and Eritrea for one year. The two countries signed a ceasefire on 18 June in Algiers.
It also quoted the daily, 'Izvestia' as saying "Russia was dragging its feet with the decree" to enforce the UN embargo, only signing it three months late. The newspaper added that "the Russian Defence Ministry has made no secret that the arms embargo hit Russia's pocket" as "arms deliveries to Ethiopia bring millions of dollars" to Moscow.
ETHIOPIA: Voters go polls in southeast
Ethiopians in the country's southeast finally went to the polls on Thursday. While the rest of the country had voted on 14 May, parliamentary and local elections in this region had been postponed twice because a crippling drought in the area, news reports said.
According to the BBC, the Somali Democratic Alliance Forces, the Somali Democratic People's Party and the West Somali Democratic Party are contesting 23 seats in the federal parliament, as well as local council positions. The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary and Democratic Front coalition was the main winner in the May elections.
Meanwhile, in a final campaign tour on Wednesday, the Somali Democratic Alliance Forces candidate Abdifetah Mursel Shel and two supporters were killed in the region's Kebri-Dehar constituency when their vehicle was blown up by a radio-controlled landmine, news reports said. Several other people were wounded in the attack. No-one has so far claimed responsibility.
ERITREA: CARE launches new humanitarian programme
The international development and relief organisation, CARE, this week announced plans to establish its first emergency relief programme in Eritrea. In a statement, it said it would be addressing the humanitarian crisis in Eritrea caused by drought and the two-year border war with Ethiopia.
Jonathan Mitchell, CARE's East Africa Regional Director, said: "CARE joins other aid agencies in seeking to raise the world's attention to the seriousness of the humanitarian situation throughout the Horn of Africa. Due to drought and conflict, millions of people are suffering. We appeal for the world's attention and for adequate funds to support emergency relief programs."
CARE hoped to provide emergency assistance to local institutions so that they could manage food and seed distribution, landmine awareness and demining, and health care for women and children displaced by the war. It said an estimated one million Eritreans fled their homes at height of the war with Ethiopia. There were currently 50,000 Eritreans in camps in eastern Sudan. Some 350,000 returned to their homes, but many suffered heavy damage in the war, CARE said.
SUDAN: Government meets MSF delegation
Officials of Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) this week held talks on the humanitarian situation with a delegation from the international relief agency Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), the state news agency, Suna, reported on Friday.
In a brief dispatch from Khartoum, it said both sides had "stressed the importance of promoting the humanitarian aid programmes in the southern states, supporting rehabilitation projects and ensuring the efficiency and safety of humanitarian operations".
The general commissioner of Humanitarian Aid, Sulaf al-Din Salih, was quoted as saying he had explained to MSF the government guarantees to ensure the safety of the humanitarian aid operations in south Sudan, where government forces have been engaged in a 17-year civil war with southern rebels.
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