Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 11:18 UK

Somali mayor axed over insecurity

food hand-out in Somalia
Up to a third of the population needs food aid

Somali Prime Minister Hussein Nur Adde has sacked the mayor of Mogadishu, a former warlord, for allegedly fuelling insecurity in the capital.

Mohammed Dhere, a close ally of President Abdullahi Yusuf, is also accused of insubordination and has declined to vacate office.

Correspondents say tension is high in the capital, where Ethiopian troops have been battling Islamist insurgents.

The UN says 1.5 million people have fled after recent fighting.

Mr Dhere first controlled the town of Jowhar, south of Mogadishu and the first temporary seat for the transitional federal government when it relocated from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Disarm mayor

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says he was a key member of the defeated US-backed alliance of warlords who fought the Union of Islamic Courts which controlled the capital until December 2006.

There are doubts that President Yusuf will approve the prime minister's decision to sack his close ally.

Reports say plans are underway to disarm the embattled mayor who controls a large contingent of militia, who have been fighting alongside the Ethiopian troops in the capital.

Ethiopian helped government forces oust the Islamists in 2006 but have since become bogged down in Somalia.

Some 2,200 African Union troops are in Mogadishu, but have done little to quell the violence which has triggered a humanitarian crisis that aid workers say may be the worst in Africa.

It is estimated that the conflict has created more than one million refugees.

Up to a third of the population needs food aid after drought compounded the effects of the conflict.

Somalia has experienced almost constant civil conflict since the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre's regime in January 1991.

Country profile: Somalia
02 May 08 |  Country profiles


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