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Int’l community slams efforts to create new federal state in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) — The international community on Wednesday expressed concern over reported efforts to create a new federal member state in southern Somalia.

Foreign envoys from the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and the United States said they were closely following developments in HirShabelle state following the announcement by the State Assembly that it had impeached state president Ali Abdullahi Osoble on Aug. 14.

The envoys urged all parties to continue the efforts to address this important matter through the established constitutional and legal means and to refrain from any actions that could undermine the consolidation of the state building process.

“Unilateral steps that have no legal basis and which are detrimental to the ongoing state formation and stabilization efforts are not helpful and are a cause for concern,” the envoys said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu.

The foreign envoys expressed concern about the reported attempts to form a separate federal member state in the Hiiraan region, considering the substantial political and material investment made in the state formation process and the ongoing capacity building efforts.

“International partners call upon all parties to adhere to the applicable legal framework, the HirShabelle Constitution, and the established parliamentary processes,” the envoys said.

They stressed the importance of preserving the political stability that is essential to further progress in the state building process and in deepening federalism in Somalia.

Osoble, who came into office in October last year following an election victory, has had differences with the State Assembly in the past few months and a fall-out with his ministers sealed his fate on Aug. 14.

Somali News

BREAKING: Somali general shot dead in capital Mogadishu

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MOGADISHU (Reuters) – A Somali general was shot in the head and killed in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday and a colonel who was his deputy has been arrested for the murder, senior army sources said.

The killing of Marine general Saiid Aden Yusuf in what was apparently an internal dispute is a fresh sign of problems facing the army as it battles an insurgency by Islamist militant group al Shabaab with the help of African Union peacekeepers.

“Our marine general was killed by his deputy at Mogadishu seaport today. The murderer was seized. It was unfortunate and unexpected. An investigation goes on,” marine officer Ahmed Ali told Reuters.

Mogadishu resident Nur Mohamed told Reuters the colonel fired several shots from his pistol and hit the general in the head.

“I was chatting with the general shortly before he was killed …. I heard the gunshots and when I ran to the scene I was shocked to see the general lying on the ground, bleeding,” he said, adding that Yusuf died on the scene from bullet wounds.

Marine officer Ahmed Ali said the colonel was arrested.

Al Shabaab is fighting to oust the government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.

The group has been pushed out of most of its urban strongholds but it is able to mount deadly attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

Somalia has faced violence and lacked a strong central government since President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.

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Humanitarian Watch

UN: More than half of Somalis need emergency aid

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The United Nations says more than half of Somalia’s population is in need of emergency aid due to a major drought and worsening conflict.

Millions have been forced from their homes and hundreds of thousands of children have been left malnourished.

The UN says the situation will worsen unless it receives $1.6bn in extra funds.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports.

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Briefing Room

Somalia to Probe Evictions of Thousands of Displaced Families

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NAIROBI — The Somali government responded to widespread criticism by aid agencies on Wednesday, promising to investigate reports that thousands of families fleeing drought and conflict were forcefully evicted from more than 20 informal camps.

The United Nations and groups such as the Somalia NGO Consortium say more than 4,000 families, or about 20,000 people, had their homes bulldozed last month inside settlements on the outskirts of the capital of Mogadishu.

The demolitions on private land were unannounced, they said, and pleas by the community — largely women and children — for time to collect their belongings and go safely were not granted.

Some aid workers who witnessed the evictions said uniformed government soldiers were involved in the demolitions.

“Regarding the forced evictions, we are really deeply concerned. We are investigating the number of evictions,” Gamal Hassan, Somalia’s minister for planning, investment and economic development, told participants at a U.N. event.

“We have to make sure we investigate and have to make sure we know exactly what happened. And then we will issue a report and you can take a look at it and see what happened and how it happened,” he said by video conference from Mogadishu.

The impoverished east African nation of more than 12 million people has been witnessing an unprecedented drought, with poor rains for four consecutive seasons.

It has also been mired in conflict since 1991 and its Western-backed government is struggling to assert control over poor, rural areas under the Islamist militant group al Shabab.

The U.N. says drought and violence have forced more than 2 million people to seek refuge elsewhere in the country, often in informal settlements located around small towns and cities.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Wednesday condemned the demolitions, and said the fate of those evicted did not fit with the progress Somalia has made.

“Not only did these people lose their homes, but the basic infrastructure that was provided by humanitarian partners and donors, such as latrines, schools, community centers — has been destroyed,” said Peter De Clercq, head of OCHA in Somalia, at the same event.

“I reiterate my condemnation of this very serious protection violation and call on the national and regional authorities to take necessary steps to protect and assist these people who have suffered so much.”

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