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Friday, May 27, 2011

Security Council: Somalia risks losing support

Associated Press

May 27, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya – The U.N. Security Council is warning Somali leaders that they risk losing financial support if they can't agree on how to carry out upcoming elections.

Somalia's government depends on international support for almost everything, including the salaries of soldiers and lawmakers. Around 9,000 African Union troops are stationed in Mogadishu to prevent the government from being overrun by militants.

The British ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Lyall Grant, told a news conference in neighboring Kenya on Wednesday that the European Union could pull funding for lawmakers.

"Strong messages, as I said, were given and we made it clear that the international community's support could not be assured whilst bickering and the infighting continued," Grant said.

President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden have been locked in a dispute over what to do when the government's term expires in August.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters in a conference call Thursday that the president and speaker "began by reciting their well-worn and inflexible positions" and "in my opinion they did not acquit themselves favorably."

She said council members told them their failure to resolve their dispute about the future of the transitional federal institutions and elections "was unacceptable and their bickering was irresponsible and they had exhausted the patience of the Security Council — and they needed, frankly, to get their act together or risk losing international support."

Aden told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the parliament will go ahead with a vote to elect a president despite Ahmed's objections. Ahmed wants a one-year extension for his government, a position the U.N. and Washington don't support.

"The president and the speaker of the parliament must be aware that there will be consequences if they are unable to reach a very rapid agreement," Grant said. He added that the European Union's fund to pay lawmakers could be "spent elsewhere if it's not been properly used in Mogadishu."

The U.N. envoy for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, is expected to organize a meeting of Somali stake holders next month, Grant said.



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