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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 12:31 GMT
Somali leader 'seeks Iraq victory'
President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
The Somali leader denies links to al-Qaeda
The president of Somalia's transitional government has condemned the United States-led attack on Iraq as naked aggression.

Abdulkassim Salat Hassan said he was praying for an Iraqi victory.

Somalia has denied repeated accusations that it is harbouring members of the al-Qaeda network.

Elsewhere in Africa, anti-war demonstrations have continued:

  • In the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, at least 20,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate outside the United States embassy.
  • In Tunisia and Mozambique, thousands attended peaceful rallies against the war.
  • Police in the Senegalese capital, Dakar used tear gas to disperse students from outside the US embassy.
  • The leader of Djibouti, where the US has set up an anti-terror base, has also condemned the war, saying a pre-planned war cannot be justified by self-defence.
  • Students in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, have held three days of protests.

Since the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, the Somali leader has strenuously denied accusations that his government has links to Islamic radicals.

He said the US was free to look for al-Qaeda members in Somalia.

Last week, an alleged al-Qaeda operative was taken from Somalia to Kenya, reportedly with help from the FBI, in connection with recent terror attacks in East Africa.

'More terrorism'

Correspondents say Monday's protest in Nouakchott was the largest in living memory.

One can not accept that without UN support, a US-led coalition begins a war using very dubious arguments
Francisco Caeiro, Luanda, Angola

Some demonstrators held photos of Saddam Hussein, while others shouted "Death to Bush".

Newspapers in Morocco have also condemned the war.

Maroc-Ouest compared George Bush to Osama Bin Laden, former Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein, saying they all used God to justify their wars.

The paper said the only result would be an increase in terrorist attacks.

"Stop the colonialist war!" wrote Al Ittihad Al Ichtiraki newspaper, which is close to the Rabat government.

"Nothing in the charter of the United Nations authorises" the conflict to go on, the paper wrote, saying that the most "urgent task now is to stop the war."

Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea have all publicly backed the US-led war in Iraq.

Reaction in Nairobi to the war on Iraq

The BBC's Alfred Taban in Khartoum says about 500 students used stones to attack the police, who responded by beating them with batons.

He says the students were originally demonstrating against the war on Iraq. But since the death of a protestor in Khartoum on Saturday, he says the focus of their anger has shifted to the government and the police.

In Senegal, both students and lecturers also protested at the university, denouncing the "gangsterism" of the US and its allies.

The BBC's Alfred Taban on Focus on Africa
"The government says these demos are not about the war"

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