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United States Africa Command Public Affairs Office 5 April 2012 USAFRICOM - related news stories

Good morning. Please see today's news review for April 5, 2012. This e-mail is best viewed in HTML. Of interest in today's report: - A deadly blast shatters calm in Somalia Capital - Kenya urges China to back AMISOM - A U.S. UAV crashes in Seychelles - U.S. State Department approves authorized departures from Mali and suspends $13 million in aid - A West African analyst explores whether Mali can emerge if junta steps down - Tensions increase between Sudan and South Sudan U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Please send questions or comments to: publicaffairs@usafricom.mil 421-2687 (+49-711-729-2687)

Good morning. Please see today's news review for April 5, 2012. This e-mail is best viewed in HTML. Of interest in today's report: - A deadly blast shatters calm in Somalia Capital - Kenya urges China to back AMISOM - A U.S. UAV crashes in Seychelles - U.S. State Department approves authorized departures from Mali and suspends $13 million in aid - A West African analyst explores whether Mali can emerge if junta steps down - Tensions increase between Sudan and South Sudan U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Please send questions or comments to: publicaffairs@usafricom.mil 421-2687 (+49-711-729-2687)

Headline Deadly Blast Shatters Calm in Somalia Capital

Date 04/04/2012

Outlet New York Times

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- A deadly bomb exploded during a ceremony on Wednesday at the newly reopened National Theater in the Somali capital as the prime minister was addressing the guests, turning an event that had been a welcome sign of growing calm into a g...

Rockets fired in clash between rival Libya militias

04/04/2012

Reuters

ZUWARA, Libya (Reuters) - Fighters near the western Libyan town of Zuwara were firing rockets and largecalibre weapons on Wednesday, Reuters reporters at the scene said, in the fourth day of a conflict between rival militias. The fighting has exposed how ...

South Sudan Says It Shot Down Sudan Jet Amid 04/05/2012 Clashes

New York Times

KAMPALA, Uganda -- South Sudan said that it shot down a north Sudanese fighter jet in its territory on Wednesday, as the two national armies continue to clash in a dispute that international observers worry may be inching closer to war.

Drone crashes in Seychelles, second in four 04/05/2012 months

Reuters

(Reuters) - A U.S. drone crash-landed at the Seychelles main airport and careered into the ocean on Wednesday, the second remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft to crash on the Indian Ocean archipelago in four months. The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authorit...

Juba-Khartoum talks withheld over escalating border clashes

04/04/2012

Daily Monitor

Talks to relieve tension between Sudan and South Sudan have ended in a deadlock over accusations of continued border attacks, state radio reported yesterday.

African Union adds to Mali 04/04/2012 sanctions with travel ban

France 24

AFP - The African Union imposed travel bans and asset freeze sanctions Tuesday on Mali's junta after it failed to heed the pan-African body's call to restore constitutional order.

Mali: U.S. Travel Warning

04/04/2012

AllAfrica.com

Washington, DC -- The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Mali at this time because of current political instability in the country, an active rebellion in the north, and continuing threats of attacks and kidnappings of Weste...

Islamists gain ground in Mali as pressure mounts on junta

04/04/2012

France 24

AFP - Mali's junta brushed off calls to give up power on Tuesday as world powers sounded the alarm and Islamists tightened their grip on the north, ordering women to wear veils in storied Timbuktu.

Will Mali emerge from its mire if the junta steps down?

04/05/2012

BBC

Mali, a country widely regarded as a model of development and democracy in West Africa, now finds itself in existential crisis. Such has been the speed of the rebels' advance across the north that a demoralised and crumbling military effectively gave up ma...

U.S. suspends $13 million 04/05/2012 in aid to Mali

Reuters

(Reuters) - The United States is suspending at least $13 million of its roughly $140 million in annual aid to Mali following last month's coup in the West African nation, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Al-Qaeda 'seeks to regroup in Africa'

04/04/2012

News24

London - A weakened al-Qaeda is seeking to regroup and re-energise by linking up with established Islamist movements in Africa, a new report from Britain's Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said on Wednesday.

Timbuktu: from city of myth to rebel stronghold

04/04/2012

Reuters

(Reuters) - When turban-swathed Tuareg rebels swept into Timbuktu on Sunday to plant the flag of their northern Mali homeland, they found very few tourists in the bars, hotels, museums, mosques and libraries of the fabled and ancient Saharan trading town.

A Taste of Hope in 04/04/2012 Somalia's Battered Capital

New York Times

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Up until a few weeks ago, all visitors who landed at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu were handed a poorly copied, barely readable sheet that asked for name, address -- and caliber of weapon.

Kenya: Country Urges China to Back Amisom Task

04/04/2012

AllAfrica.com

Nairobi, Kenya -- President Mwai Kibaki has sent out an appeal to China and other friendly nations to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). President Kibaki reiterated that Kenya's specific mission in the proactive military action was to ...

Africa: Angola assumes chair of AU Peace, Security Council

04/04/2012

Africa Online

Security Council of the African Union - Angola has assumed the rotating presidency of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) for the month of April. Angola's Ambassador to Ethiopia and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Arcanjo ...

Gulu is back from the dead but can we sustain its life?

04/05/2012

Daily Monitor

It is funny, the things we take for granted. The Karuma Bridge over the River Nile used to be the Rubicon. Those who crossed it in northbound traffic would have crossed the point of possible no return, for they would immediately find themselves in Lord's R...

U.S. Delegation Congratulates Senegal's New President

04/04/2012

U.S. State Department

WASHINGTON, D.C., Apr 3, 2012 -- The new president of Senegal took his oath of office April 2, 2012 with a delegation of top U.S. officials applauding his inauguration.

United Nations News Centre - Africa Briefs

04/04/2012

United Nations News Service

- Security Council concerned over deteriorating humanitarian situation in Mali - Libya: UN mission voices concern over violence in north-western towns - Construction of UN-supported hydro power plant begins in Sierra Leone - UN envoy outraged over suici...

News Headline: Deadly Blast Shatters Calm in Somalia Capital | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: New York Times News Text: By Mohammed Ibrahim and J. David Goodman MOGADISHU, Somalia A deadly bomb exploded during a ceremony on Wednesday at the newly reopened National Theater in the Somali capital as the prime minister was addressing the guests, turning an event that had been a welcome sign of growing calm into a grisly reminder of the many troubles still plaguing the country. Officials said the prime minister was unhurt but the death toll was not immediately clear. The event had been attended by many other high-ranking officials, journalists and civil society activists. Reuters said at least six people had been killed and scores wounded. The Associated Press put the toll at 10 and said two top sports officials were among the dead. The prime minister was speaking inside the theater when the blast took place, Prosper Hakizimana, an African Union spokesman, told Reuters. Somali officials said a female suicide bomber was responsible. But in a claim of responsibility, the Shabab, Somalia's radical Islamist insurgent group, said its operatives had planted explosives at the theater in advance. Everything was carefully planned and orchestrated, the organization said in Twitter message. The blast came amid significant signs of improvement in the capital, Mogadishu, a rubble-filled city ravaged by 21 years of civil war. Mogadishu has been enjoying a prolonged period of relative peace, preserved in part by 10,000 African Union troops, soon to be increased to 17,000, who patrol the streets in tanks, artillery and armored personnel carriers. Hundreds of thousands of residents have returned in recent months, aid groups said, fueling an economic boom that has created thousands of jobs and had begun to draw young men away from violence and bloodletting. Construction is taking place across the city, yielding new hospitals, homes, shops and a hotel. The theater, which remains without a roof since it was destroyed during Somalia's civil war, had recently held its first concert in more than two decades, during which time the space had been used as a weapons depot and then as a toilet. But the powerful blast transformed the hopeful gathering there late Wednesday morning into a

macabre scene. Photographs showed one of the dead slumped but still seated in his black chair as sun streamed into the theater. Security forces helped dazed and bloodied survivors to ambulances waiting outside. Following the reported deaths of the sports officials, Aden Yabarow Wiish, president of the Somali Olympic Committee, and Said Mohamed Nur, the chief of the country's soccer federation, the International Olympic Committee said in a statement that both men had been engaged in improving the lives of Somalian people through sport and we strongly condemn such an act of barbarism. Mohammed Ibrahim reported from Mogadishu, Somalia, and J. David Goodman from New York.
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News Headline: Rockets fired in clash between rival Libya militias | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: Reuters News Text: By Marie-Louise Gumuchian ZUWARA, Libya (Reuters) - Fighters near the western Libyan town of Zuwara were firing rockets and large-calibre weapons on Wednesday, Reuters reporters at the scene said, in the fourth day of a conflict between rival militias. The fighting has exposed how volatile Libya remains, six months after a revolt last year ended Muammar Gaddafi's rule, and how the new leadership is struggling to impose its authority on the country. Local people told a Reuters team which entered Zuwara, about 120 km (75 miles) west of the capital, that the fighting was less intense than a day earlier. The Libyan government said on Tuesday 14 people had been killed and hundreds wounded. But in the distance, the sound of Russian-made Grad rockets could be heard occasionally, as well as reports from rifles and anti-aircraft guns which the fighters have adapted to fire at targets on the ground. Officials in the capital, Tripoli, said they were sending a force to restore order in Zuwara. Local people said some of that force had arrived, but the only visible sign of a government security presence was an air force plane flying over the town. "It's quietened down but we don't know what will happen," said Younis Elfounes, a surgeon at Zuwara hospital. "It (the fighting) was all day yesterday, from 8 in the morning until late at night," he said. He said over the past few days his hospital had treated 125 people injured in the fighting, and recorded eight deaths. Other casualties were treated elsewhere. "As a doctor, and from what I can see from the patients coming in, it's been intense," Elfounes said of the fighting. NO CEASEFIRE The fighting was between militias from Zuwara and rival fighters from the settlements of AlJumail and Regdalin, a short distance to the south.

Zuwara's population is made up largely of members of the Berber ethnic group, and they opposed Gaddafi during last year's rebellion. Their neighbours to the south are mainly Arabs who had been loyal to Gaddafi. "Today is relatively calm but there is no ceasefire," said Ismail Iftiss, a Zuwara field commander whose unit was close to the frontline southwest of the town. Sporadic shooting could be heard as he spoke. "Maybe it is the calm before the storm," he said. The fighting around Zuwara, on the Mediterranean coast near the border with Tunisia, is typical of the kind of tribal and ethnic conflicts that have flared up since Gaddafi's fall. In most cases the violence is the result of a toxic mix of vendettas that have been simmering for generations, the huge quantity of weapons in circulation since the revolt, and the lack of a strong central authority. An Interior Ministry official told Reuters the confrontation had started on Sunday when a group of Zuwara men hunting for game accidentally shot someone from Al-Jumail. They were briefly detained, angering people in Zuwara. In another confrontation that has underlined Libya's fragility, about 150 people were killed in clashes over the past week between rival tribes in the southern city of Sabha.
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News Headline: South Sudan Says It Shot Down Sudan Jet Amid Clashes | News Date: 04/05/2012 Outlet Full Name: New York Times News Text: By JOSH KRON KAMPALA, Uganda South Sudan said that it shot down a north Sudanese fighter jet in its territory on Wednesday, as the two national armies continue to clash in a dispute that international observers worry may be inching closer to war. The jet, a MIG-29, was one of a number of Sudanese warplanes dropping bombs on South Sudan's oil-rich Unity State, a South Sudanese military spokesman said, a region that has been at the epicenter of violent tensions along the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Their planes have been bombing our positions, said the spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, and finally one was shot down by our defenses. Colonel Aguer did not specify the equipment that South Sudan used to down the fighter jet, and said it had crashed in an area between the two nations' front lines, adding that South Sudan had sent out patrol units to try to recover the plane. A Sudanese military spokesman could not be reached for comment. Tensions between these two nations have been brewing. South Sudan seceded from Sudan last year, after decades of civil war. But a new rebellion has sprung up inside Sudan, one that Sudan has accused South Sudan of supporting. The Sudanese insurgents, who have historical ties to South Sudan, have said they are bent on toppling the Sudanese government in Khartoum, and Sudan has been accused of bombing

inside South Sudanese territory as an extension of its military campaign against the insurgents. Adding to the hostilities, an oil row has also broken out between the two nations. Both rely on South Sudan's oil to fuel both economies, but South Sudan has accused Sudan of stealing its oil and then shut off its oil production in protest. Talks have been going on between Sudan and South Sudan in Ethiopia, but in the meantime the two nations' ground forces clashed last week in Unity State and South Sudan has accused the north of bombing its oil fields. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was scheduled to visit South Sudan recently, but canceled after fighting broke out. The United States has said it is alarmed by the brewing hostilities between the two nations, and President Obama spoke directly with President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan this week, the White House said, condemning the violence. Both sides must exert the greatest restraint in this situation, the White House said in a separate statement last week. Colonel Aguer dismissed the possibility of a return to formal war, but noted that fighting was the reality. What is war? Colonel Aguer asked. There has been fighting for more than six months now.
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News Headline: Drone crashes in Seychelles, second in four months | News Date: 04/05/2012 Outlet Full Name: Reuters News Text: (Reuters) - A U.S. drone crash-landed at the Seychelles main airport and careered into the ocean on Wednesday, the second remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft to crash on the Indian Ocean archipelago in four months. The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said the aircraft had technical problems soon after taking off and tried to land at Seychelles International Airport on the main island of Mahe. "It touched down on the runway and bounced a few times before ending (in) the sea at the extreme southern end of the runway," the SCAA said in a statement. A Reuters witness said police prevented reporters from entering a public area next to the end of the runway. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. embassy and it was not clear what the drone's mission had been. A classified U.S. diplomatic cable dated 2009 showed that unmanned aircraft carried out missions over Somalia and the Horn of Africa from the Seychelles. Local officials say drones based in the archipelago are also tracking pirates in regional waters.
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News Headline: Juba-Khartoum talks withheld over escalating border clashes | News Date: 04/04/2012

Outlet Full Name: Daily Monitor News Text: By Machel Amos Talks to relieve tension between Sudan and South Sudan have ended in a deadlock over accusations of continued border attacks, state radio reported yesterday. South Sudan chief negotiator Pagan Amum told the state radio that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) continued to bomb areas of Munga along the borders, contrary to the expected spirit of the talks. The talks between the two countries in Addis Ababa were held for the first time since heavy fighting broke out last week. Senior ministers and generals from each side met behind closed doors, with African Union negotiators waiting outside. However, clashes have continued along the poorly-defined borders, with each side accusing the other of triggering the escalation. The spokesperson of the Sudan Armed Forces, Al-Sawarmi Khalid, said there were fresh clashes around Heglig area on Sunday, accusing South Sudan of taking over Teshwin at the border. Fighting continued until Monday as the SAF tried to take over Teshwin, Al Sawarmi said. The South Sudanese army spokesperson, Col. Philip Aguer, denied the claims, instead accusing Sudan of escalating a senseless aerial bombing deep inside his territory with the aim of destroying oil infrastructure. Col. Aguer said Teshwin, where Sudan has set up a military base, is clearly a South Sudanese territory. The latest clashes erupted last week when South Sudan accused SAF of bombing deep into the oil-rich Unity State and committing ground forces to attack its bases in Teshwin. President Omar al-Bashir eventually cancelled his trip planned for yesterday to Juba to formally sign with his counterpart Salva Kiir the previous agreements on four basic freedoms and borders reached in Addis Ababa by the two delegations. The two countries are in dispute over the oil-rich regions on their border. The clashes are the most serious since South Sudan seceded from Sudan last year. The fighting has led to Khartoum calling off a presidential summit which was due yesterday. Sudan's Defence Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein emerged from the talks with his South Sudan counterpart John Kong Nyuon, saying it had been a good meeting.
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News Headline: African Union adds to Mali sanctions with travel ban - MALI - FRANCE 24 |

News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: France 24 News Text: AFP - The African Union imposed travel bans and asset freeze sanctions Tuesday on Mali's junta after it failed to heed the pan-African body's call to restore constitutional order.

The AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said the restrictions also targeted the "leaders and members of the armed and rebel groups in northern Mali." The AU "imposed, with immediate effect, individual measures including a travel ban and asset freeze against the leader and members of the military junta as well as against all individuals and entities contributing in one way or another the maintenance of the unconstitutional status quo," Lamamra told reporters. Renegade troops toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, accusing his government of failing to effectively tackle the threat by the northern rebels, who have since captured several towns in the region. The 54-member AU had already suspended Mali's membership. Lamamra said they will work with the West African regional bloc ECOWAS to establish a list of all the individuals targeted by the sanctions. He added that the collaboration was also to "facilitate the effective implementation of these sanctions so that they quickly generate a desired effect on the junta and its support while seeking to minimize the impact of the sanctions on civilians." The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has also slapped an embargo on Mali, cutting the junta off from the regional central bank in Dakar, affecting their ability to pay public wages. It will also set up a military standby force, after earlier putting some 2,000 regional troops on alert. Following the ECOWAS restrictions, a delegation sent by Mali's new military rulers went for talks with officials in regional powerhouse Nigeria.
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News Headline: Mali: U.S. Travel Warning | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: U.S. State Department Press Release Washington, DC The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Mali at this time because of current political instability in the country, an active rebellion in the north, and continuing threats of attacks and kidnappings of Westerners in the north of the country. The Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and all eligible family members of U.S. Embassy personnel. Malian mutineers have refused to return to their barracks, and rival rebel factions are battling each other for control in areas they have seized in the north. The situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable. The U.S. Department of State urges U.S. citizens in Mali to consider their own personal security and contingency plans, including the option of temporarily departing Mali. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mali dated March 26, 2012, to update information on current events in Mali.

On April 2, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed diplomatic, trade, financial, and border closure sanctions on Mali that will remain in place until further notice. Senou International Airport in Bamako is currently open for business; however, the availability of flights in the future is unpredictable and depends on the overall security situation. U.S. citizens currently living in Mali are advised to temporarily depart the country in light of the current security situation. Persons wishing to depart the country should check with commercial airlines for the airport's operational status and flight and seat availability before traveling to the airport. U.S. citizens should note that the U.S. Embassy in Bamako has designated northern regions of Mali as "restricted without prior authorization" for purposes of travel by U.S. government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependents. Prior to traveling to these areas, U.S. government employees in Mali are required to have the written approval of the U.S. Ambassador to Mali. This designation is based on an active Tuareg rebellion, the presence of Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Maghreb (AQIM), as well as banditry in the region. These restrictions are in effect for the regions of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu, where separatist rebels now appear to have control. U.S. citizens currently in Mali despite this Travel Warning are urged to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in case of emergency. U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Mali and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 tollfree in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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News Headline: Islamists gain ground in Mali as pressure mounts on junta | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: France 24 News Text: AFP - Mali's junta brushed off calls to give up power on Tuesday as world powers sounded the alarm and Islamists tightened their grip on the north, ordering women to wear veils in storied Timbuktu. Feeling the bite of mounting sanctions and pressure from all sides, the soldiers who seized power on March 22 proposed a national meeting on Thursday and dispatched a team to Nigeria for talks on an exit from the growing crisis. Since the coup, ostensibly over the government's failure to stamp out a northern rebellion, the junta has lost over half the country's territory an area the size of France in a matter of days to the rebel juggernaut. Islamists seized control of the ancient trading hub Timbuktu over the weekend alongside

Tuareg rebels and have since chased out their allies and declared to residents and religious leaders that they were imposing sharia law. This sparked alarm abroad ahead of an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on Mali, with Paris expressing concern over the Islamist threat in a country considered a democratic success until the coup. The Tuareg rebels want an independent state while Ansar Dine which has seized Timbuktu wants to impose Islamic law and has linked up with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told AFP the two were "closely tied" and Ansar Dine's "goals are not clear, but it may be to install an Islamic regime across the whole of Mali." Three of the four leaders of Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch, Abou Zeid, Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Yahya Abou Al-Hammam, were in Timbuktu on Tuesday, security and religious sources in the city said. Residents reported women in the normally secular city that hosted a major music festival in January were on Tuesday wearing headscarves. A day after being slapped with sanctions by its neighbours, Mali's embattled military rulers came under travel bans and an asset freeze from the African Union for failing to restore constitutional order. The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) already cut off the landlocked country which depends heavily on the import of fuel, also freezing access to its bank account based in Dakar. In Bamako, long lines formed at petrol stations as panic set in over the impact of the sanctions. "We hear there is an embargo, we are afraid of shortages so we are taking precautions," said a youth who wanted to fill half a dozen empty bottles. The junta on Tuesday sent a delegation to Nigeria, where ECOWAS officials could offer the putschists amnesty in exchange for relinquishing power, a foreign ministry source in Abuja said. However, it appeared a deal was not reached. Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said in Bamako the junta wanted to prosecute ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure for "high treason and financial wrongdoing." As the military junta struggled with the intensifying crisis, armed Islamists in the north handed out food and supplies that they seized from humanitarian organisations to residents of Timbuktu, sources said. Officials from the regional food security office linked to the agriculture ministry and local Red Cross confirmed on condition of anonymity that the goods being distributed were forcibly taken from their stocks. The fighting in northern Mali began in mid-January by the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), which wants independence for its homeland in the northern triangle of the bow-tie shaped nation. The Islamist Ansar Dine under notorious commander Iyad Ag Ghaly, wants to implement sharia law in the mostly Muslim but secular state. A powerful player in northern Mali, Ag Ghaly and his fighters have placed their black jihadist

flag around Timbuktu, which was a leading trading and intellectual capital up until the 16th century. "Last night Iyad Ag Ghaly met the town's Imams (religious leaders). He explained he has not come for independence but to apply Islamic law," said the civil servant Thiam. The UN cultural agency UNESCO called on the Malian authorities and on the warring factions to respect the desert country's heritage and the "outstanding architectural wonders" in Timbuktu, including ancient manuscripts and earthen buildings such as a nearly 700-year old mosque. Paris said Tuesday the Tuareg rebels were approaching the central town of Mopti where hundreds fled in panic on Monday as they saw soldiers fleeing their posts amid the rebel advance. More than 200,000 people have been forced from their homes by the fighting and aid groups have warned that the combination of civil war and drought could lead to one of the continent's worst humanitarian emergencies.
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News Headline: Will Mali emerge from its mire if the junta steps down? | News Date: 04/05/2012 Outlet Full Name: BBC News Text: Mali, a country widely regarded as a model of development and democracy in West Africa, now finds itself in existential crisis. Such has been the speed of the rebels' advance across the north that a demoralised and crumbling military effectively gave up main towns with only token resistance. And in Bamako the junta that took power on 22 March, headed by Captain Amadou Sanogo, has promised to return the country to civil constitutional rule - but without saying when. So where does Mali go from here? Partition, deepening conflict, economic collapse? Or can peace, consensus and economic recovery be restored? Double-edged sword The West African body Ecowas has opted for an uncompromising stance: It has imposed sanctions with immediate effect until the junta steps aside to make way for civilian rule. Besides freezing the assets of the putschists, its neighbours are closing all borders with Mali. Key imports, such as flour and fuel, can always be smuggled over porous borders or brought in via Mauritania, even if the route is lengthy and insecure. But the cutoff of funds by the regional central bank, UEMOA, will have an immediate impact. A similar measure was applied against former President Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast early last year - rapidly resulting in a near-total paralysis of the banking and payments system. Such tactics could prove a double-edged sword, however - boosting support for the junta if Malians feel victimised by the Ecowas and UEMOA hardline. Ecowas leaders will be hoping that the sanctions prove to be an effective short-term

negotiating tool, prodding Capt Sanogo and his colleagues into accepting the rapid implementation of a return to constitutional rule. The vast bulk of Malian political parties have united against the coup and indicated they could use their control of the national assembly to pass an amnesty for the putschists if civil rule is soon restored. The final element would be the installation of the parliamentary speaker, Dioncounda Traore, as interim head of state until the country could hold the presidential election, the first round of which had been due to take place on 29 April. No-one seems to favour a return to office for the deposed President Amadou Toumani Toure, nicknamed ATT, who was due to retire after the election anyway. ATT's credibility had already been wrecked by his handling of the northern crisis. Fairly or not, many Malians believe he failed to take a sufficiently tough line in the north, particularly when Tuareg former members of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces returned from Libya late last year. Mr Toure also seemed to fail to treat with sufficient gravity the grief and anger of the families of soldiers massacred by rebels at Aguelhok, in the Sahara, in January. Desert warfare? So a plausible route back to civil political rule in Bamako is on offer, the question is whether Capt Sanogo and his colleagues are really interested in taking it. Many West Africans are already starting to draw jokey - and sometimes also serious comparisons with the Guinean military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara. He who came to power in December 2008 as the supposed overseer of a rapid path to civilian rule - but soon acquired a taste for power himself, before being critically injured and invalided out of office less than a year later. The next few days will be a key test of goodwill. And even if an internationally recognised constitutional government does take office in Bamako, it then has to decide how to react to the rebel control of the north. What are the prospects for northern regions now controlled by a fissile assortment of Tuareg rebel forces and Islamist radicals? At first sight the rebels seem to hold all the cards and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) - apparently led by Tuaregs returned from Libya - has talked of declaring an independent northern republic within days. The government has lost control of all the key towns in the region - Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, as well as the desert garrisons. Ecowas says it has a 2,000-strong standby force available. But the troops are hardly suited to desert warfare and the task of restoring state control over the north would be formidable and probably impossible, even if a few towns were recaptured. Shared dream? Negotiations may be the only option - and there may indeed be more to negotiate about than

the MNLA would care to admit. Much of the recent fighting seems to have been the work of Ansar Dine, a radical Islamist group. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) - which holds a number of Western hostages - also seems to have been involved. These groups have a different agenda to the secular MNLA - wanting to introduce Sharia throughout Mali - and there are some reports that the jihadists control one of the two main military bases in Gao. Finally, the political and social realities of northern Mali have to be factored in. Much of the population, particularly in Gao, Timbuktu, Niafounke and the other main towns, is black African, largely Songhai and Peul who settled in the the Niger river valley area a long time ago. They have no interest in Tuareg dreams of an independent mid-Saharan state called Azawad. And a local militia, the Ganda Isso, is already active, although its leader was recently killed. A political settlement may soon be negotiable in Bamako, but no obvious early route to northern peace is in sight - and, indeed, all the ingredients for a renewed local conflict in the south of the north are there. Paul Melly is a Francophone specialist with UK think tank Chatham House
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News Headline: U.S. suspends $13 million in aid to Mali | News Date: 04/05/2012 Outlet Full Name: Reuters News Text: (Reuters) - The United States is suspending at least $13 million of its roughly $140 million in annual aid to Mali following last month's coup in the West African nation, the State Department said on Wednesday. The suspension affects U.S. assistance for Mali's ministry of health, public school construction and the government's efforts to boost agricultural production. The United States, which sees Mali as an important partner in regional efforts to combat Islamic extremism, has warned that Mali's political crisis was putting the territorial integrity of the country at risk. U.S. law bars aid "to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree." The United States announced the suspension of some aid to Mali a day after calling again on coup leaders to immediately return power to civilian authorities. "The rest of the assistance will continue but anything that was directly going into the government programs and ministries has to be suspended," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

Once one of the most stable democracies in West Africa, Mali has been in turmoil since the widely condemned March 22 coup that emboldened Tuareg rebels to seize half the country in their quest for a northern homeland. They have been joined by Islamists bent on imposing sharia, Islamic law, across the whole of the moderate Muslim state, making it the latest security concern in a region battling al Qaeda agents and home-grown militant groups such as Nigeria's Boko Haram. Mali's military rulers on Wednesday postponed a national convention to end a crisis sparked by the coup, which has led to international isolation and allowed the rebels to seize control of the northern half of the country.
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News Headline: Al-Qaeda 'seeks to regroup in Africa' | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: News24 News Text: London - A weakened al-Qaeda is seeking to regroup and re-energise by linking up with established Islamist movements in Africa, a new report from Britain's Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said on Wednesday. Deprived of its base in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden's terror network appears to be seeking influence in Somalia, North Africa and beyond, raising the prospect of a new "arc of regional instability", the study said. "The focus of anti-jihadist counter-terrorism is shifting to Africa," wrote Valentina Soria, a research analyst at the RUSI defence think-tank. Her report details "disturbing new trends" across the continent which pose fresh challenges for Western countries such as Britain and the United States, whose citizens may be increasingly targeted in Africa and which could even be attacked themselves, although there is no public evidence of this so far. "If correct, this assessment would raise the worrying prospect of an arc of regional instability encompassing the whole Sahara-Sahel strip and extending through to East Africa, which the now weakened al-Qaeda-core could well exploit to re-group, re-organise and re-invigorate its terrorist campaign against the West," the report said. Using a tested model from Yemen, the home of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network has forged alliances with the Shabaab movement in Somalia and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa. Meanwhile, Nigeria's Boko Haram, while remaining separate and focused on local issues, has shifted towards more spectacular attacks reminiscent of al-Qaeda, the report said. Al-Qaeda "appears to be adopting a strategy of 'going native', which implies seizing upon and exploiting local grievances with the ultimate aim of securing a stable foothold in volatile countries", the report said. The African groups benefit from al-Qaeda's expertise to plan and carry out high-profile attacks and to disseminate propaganda, as well as physical support in the form of fighters, finances and weapons. However, the report said the decision to link up with Bin Laden's group could cause internal

divisions and also scare off potential recruits, noting that Shabaab's reliance on foreign fighters may not be a choice but a necessity driven by the alienation of the Somali movement's African supporters.
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News Headline: Timbuktu: from city of myth to rebel stronghold | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: Reuters News Text: By Bate Felix and Pascal Fletcher (Reuters) - When turban-swathed Tuareg rebels swept into Timbuktu on Sunday to plant the flag of their northern Mali homeland, they found very few tourists in the bars, hotels, museums, mosques and libraries of the fabled and ancient Saharan trading town. Local guides say numbers of foreign visitors had already fallen off after a Dutchman, a South African and a Swede were seized by gunmen in the historic Malian city in November. A German citizen was killed in the abduction claimed by al Qaeda. With the rebels, including Islamist factions preaching sharia, now in control of Timbuktu's dusty streets, tourists may not be returning soon to the spot near the Niger river that for centuries was a symbol of unreachable remoteness, bewitching voyagers with tales of wealth, wisdom and life-giving water. "Practically all hotels are empty and closed. Nothing is going on in the tourism sector," tourist guide Oumar Ag Mohammed Hamaleck told Reuters from the city this week, contrasting this with the 80 tourists a day he hosted during past boom periods. Just as Timbuktu with its exotic staccato name is part of the lore of the Sahara, this same mystery cloaks the Tuaregs, those blue-robed desert marauders who have peopled adventure stories and Hollywood films for years, from P.C. Wren's Beau Geste to the more recent action blockbuster "Sahara", with Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz. But there is nothing fictional about the rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) who charged into Timbuktu on Sunday to plant their yellow, green, red and black flag in the city to claim it as part of a homeland covering an area of northern Mali the size of France. These modern-day Saharan raiders have swapped their fleet horses and camels of old for powerful 4 x 4s and pickups, bristling with heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. AK-47s and RPG launchers are now the small arms of choice, instead of muskets and swords. Besides the MNLA, Timbuktu's occupants now also include rival Islamist rebels of the Ansar Dine (Defender of the Faith) movement under veteran Tuareg leader Iyad Ag Ghaly, who seek to impose Islamic law in Mali and are reported to have links with jihadist groups like al Qaeda. "The Islamists have said they are not OK with bars, so no bars have reopened since they took control," said Timbuktu guide Hamaleck, although apart from this he had not heard of "anything to be worried about" for the local population. The hydra-headed Tuareg-led revolt, energised by a military coup last month that toppled the government in the southern capital Bamako, has fueled fears of turmoil in a vast lawless northern zone already identified by western experts as a haven for criminal gangs and al Qaeda militants.

Before the occupation, Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of ancient mosques and burial grounds, had become an obligatory stop for budget backpackers seeking the desert experience and scholars looking for historical wisdom from priceless Islamic manuscripts. "THE MYSTERY OF TIMBUKTU" "People come to Timbuktu to 'feel the mystery of Timbuktu' as we say here ... They also come for a camel ride at the gates of the desert, boat rides on the Niger river to spot hippos and witness the sunset. They also visit various famous tourist sites," tourist guide Hamaleck said. Sunday's rebel occupation prompted an appeal from UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova for the warring parties to spare "Timbuktu's outstanding earthern architectural wonders". These include the Sankore, Sidi Yahia and Djingarei-ber mosques, the last Timbuktu's oldest, built from mud bricks and wood in 1325. The origins of Timbuktu - the name is believed to derive from the words Tin-Boctou (meaning the place or well of Boctou, a local woman) - date back to the 5th century. The site on an old Saharan trading route that saw salt from the Arab north exchanged for gold and slaves from black Africa to the south, blossomed in a 16th century Golden Age as an Islamic seat of learning, home to priests, scribes and jurists. A 15th century Malian proverb proclaims: "Salt comes from the north, gold from the south, but the word of God and the treasures of wisdom are only to be found in Timbuctoo." But it was rumours of gold that drove European explorers to cross the trackless, shifting sands of the Sahara to search for the legendary city, already known for centuries to local inhabitants who traversed the deserts on camelback and navigated the muddy brown waters of the Niger by canoes. Some of these foreign explorers died of thirst in the desert or were robbed and slain by fierce Tuareg warriors, while Timbuktu's mirage-like renown - no doubt enhanced by thirst-crazed, feverish imaginations - reached glittering proportions in the consciousness of 19th century Europe. In his poem "Timbuctoo", English poet Lord Alfred Tennyson addresses "Wide Afric" to ask: "... is the rumour of thy Timbuctoo, A dream as frail as that of ancient Time?" Scottish explorer Gordon Laing was the first European to arrive in Timbuktu in 1826, but he did not live to tell the tale, perishing at the hands of desert robbers. It was not until two years later that Frenchman Rene-Auguste Caillie became the first European to see Timbuktu and survive to recount what he saw. "I have been to Timbuktu!" he is said to have breathlessly told the French consul in Tangier after he staggered back from his epic Saharan journey. But after all his dreams of glittering minarets and palaces filled with gold, Caillie was disappointed to find in Timbuktu what it has largely remained for centuries: a dun-coloured town in a dun-coloured desert. "I had a totally different idea of the grandeur and wealth of Timbuctoo," he wrote. "The city presented, at first view, nothing but a mass of ill-looking houses, built of earth. Nothing was to be seen in all directions, but immense quicksands of yellowish white colour," he added. "IS THAT IT?" This initial sense of disappointment for outsiders, the myth not matching reality, seems to have

traversed the centuries. Around a century and a half after Caillie, veteran Polish correspondent Ryszard Kapuscinski was to write as he flew into Timbuktu by plane: "The town consists of clay houses built on sand. The clay and sand are the same colour, so the town looks like an organic part of the desert - a fragment of the Sahara shaped into rectangular blocks, and elevated. The heat curdles the blood, paralyzes the body, stuns." And outspoken Irish rocker and anti-famine campaigner Bob Geldof is reported to have exclaimed "Is that it?" when he first clapped eyes on Timbuktu on a visit in the 1980s. But residents like Hamaleck the guide, echoing the 15th century proverb, know Timbuktu's treasures are not immediately visible to the eye. "There is a mystery in Timbuktu, but it is something that you can only feel and not see," he says. Besides its architectural marvels, Timbuktu also boasts tens of thousands of ancient, brittle manuscripts, some from the 13th century, which academics say prove Africa had a written history at least as old as the European Renaissance. Written in ornate calligraphy, this is a compendium of learning on everything from law, sciences and medicine to history and politics. Some experts compare it in importance to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some texts were stashed for generations under mud homes and in desert caves by proud Malian families who feared they would be stolen by Moroccan invaders, European explorers and then French colonialists. Some believe the texts collected so far are just a fraction of what lies hidden under centuries of dust behind the ornate wooden doors of Timbuktu's mud-brick homes. Michael Covitt, Founder of the Malian Manuscript Foundation and a U.S. documentary film producer, says the ancient manuscripts contain doctrines of "peace, tolerance, cultural diversity and conflict resolution" that have served Mali for decades. The mainly Muslim country was viewed as one of the West Africa's most stable democracies before last month's coup. Many are hoping the Tuareg rebels and the coup leaders in Bamako will heed the message of Timbuktu's manuscripts.
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News Headline: A Taste of Hope in Somalia's Battered Capital | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: New York Times News Text: By Jeffrey Gettleman MOGADISHU, Somalia Up until a few weeks ago, all visitors who landed at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu were handed a poorly copied, barely readable sheet that asked for name, address and caliber of weapon. No more. Now visitors get a bright yellow welcome card that has no mention of guns and several choices for reason of visit, including a new category: holiday. Outside, on Mogadishu's streets, the thwat-thwat-thwat hammering sound that rings out in the mornings is not the clatter of machine guns but the sound of actual hammers. Construction is going on everywhere new hospitals, new homes, new shops, a six-story hotel and even

sports bars (albeit serving cappuccino and fruit juice instead of beer). Painters are painting again, and Somali singers just held their first concert in more than two decades at the National Theater, which used to be a weapons depot and then a national toilet. Up next: a televised, countrywide talent show, essentially Somali Idol. Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, which had been reduced to rubble during 21 years of civil war, becoming a byword for anarchy, is making a remarkable comeback. The Shabab, the fearsome insurgents who once controlled much of the country, withdrew from the city in August and have been besieged on multiple sides by troops from the African Union, Kenya, Ethiopia and an array of local militias. Now, one superpower is left in the capital the African Union, with 10,000 troops (soon to be 17,000), tanks, artillery and armored personnel carriers that constantly chug up and down the street and the city is enjoying its longest epoch of relative peace since 1991: eight months and counting. It's a rebirth, grinned Omar Osman, a Somali-American software engineer who worked for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta and just moved back here. Call it Somalia 2.0. Clearly, this city and the rest of Somalia still have a long way to go. A suicide bomber recently struck at the gates of the presidential palace, and a stray mortar shell crashed into a refugee camp, killing six. A few warlords are still lurking around, and clan-based militias have reared their heads in some neighborhoods, a potent reminder of the clan-driven chaos that dominated Mogadishu for so long. But people here are sensing the moment and seizing it. More than 300,000 residents have come back to the city in the past six months, local aid groups say, and many are cheerfully carting away chunks of rubble and resurrecting their bullet-riddled homes. The economic boom, fueled by an infusion of tens of millions of dollars, much of it from Somalis flocking home from overseas, is spawning thousands of jobs that are beginning to absorb young militiamen eager to get out of the killing business. Given Mogadishu's importance to the country, it all adds up to a huge opportunity. And though Somalia has self-destructed numerous times before, Augustine Mahiga, the head of the United Nations political office for Somalia, along with so many others here, insisted that this time really is different. Somalia, they contend, is finally turning around. For the first time since 1991, Mogadishu is under one authority, Mr. Mahiga said from a new office that exuded the whiff of fresh paint. It's unprecedented. All across town, people who have no connection to one another and who come from very different walks of life describe the same new, strange feeling: hope. The Fishmonger The room is packed, the flies are swarming, and the floor is sticky with thick, black blood. Four million! shouts Mohammed Sheik Nur Taatey, emphatically waving four stubby fingers. Give me four million. I won't take a shilling less. This is economics at its most elemental supply and demand, seller and buyer, Mr. Taatey and the brawny, sweaty, pushy crowd. The arena: Mogadishu's fish market, a long, skinny, seaside building where many thousands of dollars' worth of fish are sold every day. Mr. Taatey, 38, is a fishmonger, presiding over the day's catch and auctioning it off to wholesale buyers. His personal finances have soared in the past several months, an apt

example, especially in this case, that a rising tide lifts all boats. The surge of people returning to Mogadishu and the opening of new restaurants and hotels have steadily driven up the price of fish, from about 50 cents a pound a few years ago, when Mogadishu was a shellshocked ghost town, to $2 today. And the catch is quite good, an upbeat sign for Somalia's reviving seafood industry, which has recently caught the eye of Asian investors. Just the other day, porter after porter stumbled through the fish market's doorway quivering under the weight of 150-pound blue marlins slung across their shoulders. Oh, look, shark-fish! Mr. Taatey shouted out in exuberant, broken English as a team of fishermen dragged in a 400-pound shark. Mr. Taatey promptly sold it for $600. A few minutes later, with bricks of Somali shillings in his arms and sweat trickling down his temples, he said, These are the best times of my life. That day he made $27. Born in the old part of town, where the coral block houses lean drunkenly toward the sea, Mr. Taatey had watched in despair as rival militias from clans much bigger than his own leveled Mogadishu after the government collapsed in 1991. Sometimes it was so dangerous to step outside that Mr. Taatey could not sell fish, leaving his family to a single meal a day a bowl of gruel. But nowadays Mr. Taatey leisurely strolls back to his apartment, in black acid-washed jeans and a short-sleeve hoodie, joining his children for a midday snack of bananas, potatoes, pancakes and soup. I feel lucky, Mr. Taatey said with a huge smile, sitting in the middle of what looked like a nursery school class. I have 14 children. Some people have none. The Banker While Mr. Taatey deposits his profits in the bulging pockets of his acid-washed jeans, Liban Egal has another idea: a bank. While his hometown was drowning in chaos, Mr. Egal, true to Somalis' legendary entrepreneurial spirit, was running a small empire of check-cashing shops and fried chicken restaurants in inner-city Baltimore. Somali traders are celebrated across Africa for their pluck, often the first to set up shop in a slum or a far-off village, and Mr. Egal, who emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s, was clearly part of this tradition. Now he is opening First Somali Bank, one of the country's first bona fide commercial banks, and he plans to soon branch into high-speed Internet service, solar panels and fish factories. He says now is the precise time, neither too early nor too late, to invest in Somalia because security has drastically improved but taxes are still low. I was rushing to get this in, he said, patting a $115,000 satellite dish that he paid only $900 to import. Things are changing as we speak. The Somali shilling has been surging in value, from 33,000 shillings to the dollar six months ago to 20,000 today. Real estate prices are skyrocketing because of all the international organizations coming back to Mogadishu after a 20-year hiatus. The famine that swept southern Somalia last year killed tens of thousands of people but also spurred new interest in this country and brought in new players like the Turks, who arrived handing out food aid and are now doing business. Last month, Turkish Airlines started twice-weekly flights between

Istanbul and Mogadishu. On a recent morning, Mr. Egal, 42, proudly unfurled a new banner only to be scolded by one of his partners that they could not use it in the bank because it had a picture of a camel. Some Islamic scholars say it is forbidden to depict animate objects. Damn, man, Mr. Egal grumbled. I liked that camel. Another issue: the Transitional Federal Government, Somalia's internationally recognized authority, which is widely viewed as corrupt and weak. Mr. Egal said that when he arrived, officials from the central bank asked him to pay a $100,000 registration fee. I said, a hundred thousand dollar, for what? He refused and they went away, he said. When asked about this in an e-mail, Abdirahman Omar Osman, a government spokesman, wrote back saying, Hahahahaha, this is absolutely not true. The spokesman added, Corruption is the thing of the past. The Artist Abdullah Abdirahman Abdullah Alif, a wiry artist, still gets death threats for the satirical cartoons he pens. Bombs still go off on a weekly basis. But at least I have a job, he says. The way I see it, we're in transition, and he has a 10-footlong canvas to illustrate the point. A teenage boy half flesh, half skeleton stands in the middle of the painting, one hand clutching a dove, the other a rifle. Behind him are two very different futures: verdant fields, juicy melons and pretty buildings versus flames, graves, vultures and fire. We made this real simple, explained Mr. Alif, with a Business Royal brand cigarette hanging off his lip. A young boy is the backbone of society and we want young boys to look at this and understand they have a choice right now, death and destruction or peace. Mr. Alif, 40, is part of a team of artists who just emerged from years in hiding and have been commissioned, by a Somali nonprofit group, for the respectable wage of $400 a month to make giant paintings promoting peace. Their work will be displayed on busy street corners, the two-dimensional equivalent of a public service advertisement in a society without many TVs. During the Shabab years, Mr. Alif had a price on his head for drawings that were deemed unIslamic. When he finally fled his neighborhood, looters snatched his file cabinets housing all his artwork. Twenty-six thousand drawings, he said. Gone. But his spirits seem buoyed by the artistic revival now under way. A group of musicians gathered for a recent afternoon jam session, the tunes blaring, their heads bobbing. The women were smoking cigarettes and chewing qat. During the Shabab days, they could have been killed for doing that. Step by step by step by step, Mr. Alif smiled. The Policewoman

So much of Mogadishu's progress hinges on something basic but elusive: security. That is where Khadija Hajji Diriye comes in. Solidly constructed from her broad shoulders down to her ankles, Ms. Diriye, 35, struts into the Waberi police station where she works. She grunts hello and a colleague casually hands her an AK-47. Once, she says, the rifle firmly in her hands, her eyes bright like sparks, the Shabab were just across the street and I was firing away. She says she is treated the same as male officers, except for not being allowed to carry a pistol because someone might try to attack her and steal it. Her station is like a Mogadishu version of Hill Street Blues. Veiled women and prayer-capped men (some with daggers tucked in their robes) flow through the gates in a constant stream to take their seats at a big desk and make complaints spousal abuse, stab wounds, contractual disputes, a missing TV. The officers type up reports with an ancient typewriter and occasionally investigate and make arrests. Abdi Ismail Samatar, a Somali-American geography professor, said now that Mogadishu's turnaround has begun, everything depends on institutions like the police. The private sector can only go so far, he said. Now it's up to the folks on the hill. But the folks on the hill meaning Villa Somalia, the hilltop presidential palace still seem as dysfunctional as ever. Two men are claiming to be speaker of Parliament, paralyzing all lawmaking, and millions of dollars are missing, a former government official recently revealed. It is no surprise, then, that the most important government employees i.e., the security forces often do not get paid. Ms. Diriye is supposed to make $100 a month, but she says she rarely sees that. Her living conditions are atrocious. Her husband was murdered several years ago, and she squats with her five children in a crumbling wreck of a house by the sea. Her roof leaks, her mattress is ripped, there is no bathroom and no electricity. She sticks with the job, she says, because she is patriotic. In 1991, when the government collapsed, that was the worst time in my life, she said. So how can I leave now? We can smell a government coming. The Assassin Abdul Kader used to hunt police officers like Ms. Diriye, government officials, intellectuals and the occasional religious sheik. He hardly looks like an assassin, with pudgy cheeks and a little beard struggling to take root on his chin. But he says (and others have confirmed it) that he was part of the Amneeyat, the Shabab's secret police, essentially a hit squad. They split us into teams, he explained. The commander would tell us our target, and we'd watch him for a whole day, morning till night. Sometimes we'd even watch him a whole week. Then we'd make a plan. Then we'd kill him. Abdul Kader betrays little emotion, neither bravado nor much regret. He said that his weapon of choice was a .30-caliber pistol and that he was involved in more than 50 assassinations.

I heard many people begging for their lives, he said. He tries not to think about it. Abdul Kader (he wanted only his first name to be used, for obvious reasons) joined his first militia about six years ago, when he was 20. With Somalia's economy in ruins, militias and piracy gangs were about the only ones hiring. He eventually grew numb to taking life, he said, but could see that the Shabab were losing to the outside forces, the superiorly armed African Union troops who arrived in 2007 and have steadily battered the Shabab until they pulled out of Mogadishu in August, creating this period of relative peace. Though the Shabab still control some territory in southern Somalia and stage bomb attacks in Mogadishu, their power is rapidly fading. Kenyan and Ethiopian forces are overpowering them in the hinterlands, and the African Union is now pushing outward from Mogadishu. For Abdul Kader, the last straw was when he was assigned to assassinate his cousin, a progovernment militiaman. He wanted to defect, but first had to ask his father's permission. His father said yes, please come home. This was several months ago, and he is still checking over his shoulder for any signs of his former colleagues. Like many other former militiamen, he seems lost. I just want a normal job, he said. Like what? He thought for a few seconds and answered, I'd be happy as a driver.
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News Headline: Kenya: Country Urges China to Back Amisom Task | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Nairobi, Kenya President Mwai Kibaki has sent out an appeal to China and other friendly nations to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). President Kibaki reiterated that Kenya's specific mission in the proactive military action was to diminish the threats posed by the Al Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants to national security and territorial integrity. The president made the appeal on Tuesday when he held talks with the Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress Hua Jianmin who paid him a courtesy call. The president, while commending the Chinese government for funding various infrastructural developments in the country, acknowledged that Kenya has substantially benefited from the financial and technical support extended by China. Jianmin is in the country to promote communication and cooperation between the Kenya National Assembly and National Peoples' Congress of China. The talks were attended by Cabinet Ministers Sam Ongeri (Foreign Affairs) Margret Kamar

(Higher Education), Mutula Kilonzo (Education) and Kenya's Ambassador to UNESCO Mary Khimulu. The Acting Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia was also present. Kenya is among countries whose troops are integrated in the AMISOM peacekeeping mission. Kenyan soldiers were the latest to join the AMISOM fold last month, having entered there in October to fight Al Shabaab militants who were blamed for a series of attacks and kidnappings in the country. The Kenyan troops are now fully integrated under the AMISOM and their costs are met by the AU force unlike previously when they were supported by the country's tax payers. Military Spokesman Cyrus Oguna recently announced that the Kenyan troops had made tremendous progress in fighting Al Shabaab, having killed many of its members and destroyed their bases deep inside Somalia.
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News Headline: Africa: Angola assumes chair of AU Peace, Security Council | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: Africa Online - Online News Text: Security Council of the African Union - Angola has assumed the rotating presidency of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) for the month of April. Angola's Ambassador to Ethiopia and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Arcanjo do Nacimento, is the new chair of the body. Nacimento assumes office at a time of continuing tension in many parts of the continent, including Darfur in Sudan, Madagascar and Mali, where soldiers recently toppled the country's elected President. Thus, the presidency of Angola will be marked by the management and search for solutions to these major crises. Angola was elected to the Council during the 18th Summit of AU in January 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a two-year tenure. Also serving as members of the council are Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Djibouti, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, and Lesotho. The Peace and Security Council of the AU is tasked with promoting security and stability on the continent, securing protection and welfare of the population and ensuring peace.
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News Headline: Gulu is back from the dead but can we sustain its life? | News Date: 04/05/2012 Outlet Full Name: Daily Monitor News Text: It is funny, the things we take for granted. The Karuma Bridge over the River Nile used to be the Rubicon. Those who crossed it in northbound traffic would have crossed the

point of possible no return, for they would immediately find themselves in Lord's Resistance Army territory, all the way up to Gulu and beyond. Those who were southbound could, on crossing the bridge, breath a sigh of relief for they had joined the rest of Uganda the one that had enjoyed the peace and stability for so many' years. The rebels did not control any territory, per se, but the threat of their vicious attacks was enough to drive people out of their homes encouraged by government into camps where, cheek by jowl, they waited out their misery. Gulu, whence your columnist is writing, is back from the dead. Trucks carrying merchandise bound for South Sudan hurtle through its narrow roads, past banks squeezing against each other for space on the main thoroughfare. Even Uchumi has set up shop. Gulu's nightlife, once made up of fleeing civilians and punctuated by sounds of gunfire, is now a pockmarked by the sounds of music blaring out from dozens of bars wherein locals religiously and assiduously separate animal flesh from bone. Life is good in Gulu. And the numbers support that statement. Amidst the doom and gloom painted in the latest Afrobarometer poll findings there was a small, unreported fact; the people of northern Uganda have become the most optimistic in the country. Of all four regions, more people here than in any other part of Uganda feel that their lives have improved over the last five years. The most obvious reason is that there is a peace dividend; anyone who goes from living on the edge of death to some sense of security is bound to have a sense of viva la vida, or la dolce vita the good life. There is also the fact that northern Uganda is coming off a low development base in which small increments make a big difference: give a man with $10,000 an extra $1,000 and they might smile but give a man who has nothing $100 and he will remember your name for the rest of his days. Of course, Gulu is not entirely representative it has always been a big town, after all but the sense of optimism in the dusty air throughout most of northern Uganda is unmistakable. The fundamental problems remain, however. Northern Uganda lags behind the rest of the country on many development indices and the effects of two decades of war will not disappear overnight. Youth unemployment, as in other parts of Uganda, is way above 50 per cent and rising on the back of a high population growth rate. Health, transport and education infrastructure is undeveloped or very poor across northern Uganda. Four things will determine whether we keep the optimism in northern Uganda. The first issue is, obviously security. This is less likely to be compromised by the LRA, as the Invisible Children do-gooders tell us, but more by the outbreak of war in Southern Sudan, which would destroy the trade, boom and, worse, suck us into the conflict. Second is how quickly we can roll out basic infrastructure and commendable first steps have been taken in that direction with some of the road projects in the area but more needs to be done with a lot more urgency. Thirdly, the question of the land must be answered. A lot of the land in northern Uganda is owned communally and, having lain fallow for years, is being eyed by capricious land grabbers.

Elders and politicians in the area are justified in being sceptical but they should not become cynical towards investment. It would be a shame if such large, fertile land returned to smallscale, hand-held-hoe farming. Organise the people into cooperatives and have them work with, not for, investors, including Mukwano who is setting up an impressive-looking sunflower farm in Kiryandongo. Finally, government must find a way to retool the young people of northern Uganda. Denied the opportunity of quality education (I am using the word quality in very loose, relative terms), they are less likely to find or create employment on their own yet are most likely to resort to violence, thanks to the trauma of war. We struggled to deal with the war in northern Uganda; we must not let the peace dividend slip through our hands.
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News Headline: U.S. Delegation Congratulates Senegal's New President | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: U.S. State Department News Text: WASHINGTON, D.C., Apr 3, 2012 The new president of Senegal took his oath of office April 2, 2012 with a delegation of top U.S. officials applauding his inauguration. President Macky Sall met with the U.S. delegation, led by the chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), following the inauguration. CEO Daniel Yohannes conveyed the congratulations of President Obama, and with him were Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs; U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and GuineaBissau Lewis Lukens; and General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command. "Today is a historic day for Senegal and for democracy in Africa," Yohannes said. "The United States looks forward to working with President Sall and his administration to advance our mutual interests for peace, progress and prosperity." Sall, a former prime minister, defeated longstanding president Abdoulaye Wade in a run-off election in March. His win was widely celebrated as a victory for democracy in Africa. President Obama issued a statement making that point March 26. "The government and people of Senegal have once again demonstrated their commitment to political expression through peaceful, democratic elections, making it harder for nondemocratic forces near and far to prevail," the Obama statement said. Senegal is a partner in a $540 million compact with the MCC, a five-year arrangement that became effective in 2010. The project is focusing on Senegalese infrastructure with rehabilitation of major roads, investment in water-resource management and strategic irrigation projects. These improvements will support productivity in the agricultural sector, giving farmers greater opportunity to get their goods to market, according to the partnership plan. So far contracts worth more than $2.3 million for road repairs have been awarded and are moving toward construction. Over the term of the partnership, the compact calls for rehabilitation of almost 380 kilometers of roadways in the West African country. The MCC has partnerships with several dozen nations globally, providing assistance to help

countries lift themselves from poverty. The MCC has approved $8.4 billion for programs worldwide in agriculture, irrigation, transportation, water supplies, heath care access, enterprise development and anti-corruption.
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News Headline: United Nations News Centre - Africa Briefs | News Date: 04/04/2012 Outlet Full Name: United Nations News Service News Text: Security Council concerned over deteriorating humanitarian situation in Mali 4 April The Security Council today expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Mali, and called on all parties in the country to allow access to aid organizations to provide assistance to civilians in need. Libya: UN mission voices concern over violence in north-western towns 4 April The United Nations mission in Libya today expressed deep concern over the recent intensification of violence in three towns in the country's north-west and deplored reports of a growing number of casualties. Construction of UN-supported hydro power plant begins in Sierra Leone 4 April The construction of a United Nations-supported hydro power plant has commenced in north-western Sierra Leone in an effort to bring electricity to the local community, which is expected to benefit from improved irrigation, water and sanitation services and increased businesses opportunities. UN envoy outraged over suicide bombing of national theatre in Mogadishu 4 April The United Nations envoy for Somalia has voiced outrage at today's suicide bomb attack in the newly reopened national theatre in the capital, Mogadishu, which reportedly killed at least six people and injured scores of others. Chad: UN official highlights human rights concerns, praises readiness to address them 4 April A senior United Nations human rights official has acknowledged that the political will exists in Chad to improve human rights, but noted that the country has a difficult task ahead, having to address problems that range from food shortages to violence against women, impunity and limited judicial capacity.
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