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Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Kenya moves against Somali leader

President Abdullahi Yusuf
Abdullahi Yusuf will be subject to a travel ban and assets freeze

Kenya has imposed sanctions against Somalia's president, accusing him of being "an obstacle to peace".

The move came after President Abdullahi Yusuf named a new prime minister in defiance of parliament's wishes.

MPs overwhelmingly voted that the dismissal of Nur Hassan Hussein was illegal, but Mohamed Mahamud Guled has still been appointed to replace him.

President Yusuf and Mr Nur had clashed in recent months over attempts to deal with the Islamist-led armed opposition.

Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said the Somali president would be subject to a travel ban and an assets freeze.

Mr Wetangula also chairs the regional body, Igad, which says it will not recognise Mr Yusuf's choice.

"The region and international community should act in unison to collectively condemn all spoilers to the Somali peace process," he told journalists in Nairobi, AP news agency reports.

Isolated

The African Union and the UN Secretary General have both described the political in-fighting as disruptive to the peace process.

Chair of the International Contact Group for Somalia, UN diplomat Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, said the sacking of Mr Nur had been "rejected by the vast majority of Somalis".

Mohamed Mahamud Guled (l) and Nur Hassan Hussein (right) (AFP)
Somalia effectively has two prime ministers
The group is to meet in New York later on Tuesday and is due to hear from US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, amongst other senior government representatives.

Correspondents say Somalia effectively has two prime ministers - Mr Guled appointed by the president and Mr Nur, who has the backing of MPs.

Mr Nur was appointed prime minister in November 2007 to replace Ali Mohamed Ghedi, who had refused to negotiate with armed Islamists and other opposition groups.

He was chairman of Somalia's Red Crescent Society during many years of conflict before being named prime minister.

Mr Guled has served in Mr Yusuf's government in the past, as interior minister.

"My first task will be to unite the parliament," he told the BBC's Somali Service.

President Yusuf's administration only controls parts of the capital, Mogadishu, and the town of Baidoa after recent advances by Islamist insurgents and is dependent on international aid and Ethiopian military support to function.

The Ethiopian troops, which helped government troops drive Islamist forces from Mogadishu two years ago, are due to pull out in just over two weeks.

A small African Union peacekeeping force has indicated it would leave with the Ethiopians unless it gets reinforcements.

About one million people have fled their homes - many after fierce fighting in Mogadishu between Islamists and the Ethiopia-backed government forces.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.

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