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'Let Somali People Decide,€ Expert Says

WI Staff | 12/29/2008, 12:29 p.m.

(GIN) - With insurgents gaining ground across Somalia everyday, Somalians should be allowed to choose the path to peace, according to a regional expert based in Nairobi. €The success of the insurgents is a reflection of the desire of ordinary Somalis to end the anarchy, coupled with the TFG's [transitional federal government] inability to restore order,€ said Timothy Othieno, a regional analyst at the London-based Overseas Development Institute.

€Somalia's U.S.- backed government is not on the brink of collapse; it has already collapsed,€ said Abdi Ahmed Dhuhulow, a parliamentarian allied to Somali's Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, this week. In the past two months, insurgents opposed to foreign forces have taken control of more than a dozen localities. €It would be wise to allow the Somalis to decide how they want to design their own state. I am not saying to neglect Somalia, but not interfere in their 'state-making' processes,€ Othieno said. According to the United Nations, some 3.5-million Somalis will urgently need help by the year's end.

Congolese Pres. Kabila Linked to 'Brutal Repression'

(GIN) - The executions of 500 people in the Northwest and Southern Democratic Republic of Congo, were linked to the government of President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, by a leading human rights group. €At least 500 suspected political opponents have been killed in the last two years,€ Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published this week. About 1,000 more have been detained since July 2006 elections and possibly tortured, the group claimed.

Kabila himself set the tone and direction by giving orders to "crush" or "neutralize" the so-called "enemies of democracy" during the elections, said HRW. There was no official response to the report as of Tuesday. "While everyone focuses on the violence in Eastern DRC, government abuses against political opponents attract little attention," Anneke van Woudenberg, senior researcher in HRW's Africa division, said in a statement. Meanwhile, Congo's government has ruled out direct talks with Tutsi rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, saying on Tuesday that any meeting was "impossible" outside the framework of a January peace deal the rebels have already rejected.

Obama's Africa Policy Draws Concern

(GIN) €" President-elect Barack Obama€s choice for U.S. Treasury Secretary could have far reaching consequences for Africa. [Obama recently named Timothy Geithner, currently president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as his new Treasury Secretary.] Little opposition has been expressed toward Geithner, but two other members of Obama€s economic team €" Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers - are drawing critical comments from some Africa watchers.

€One of Barack Obama's leading advisors has done more damage to Africa, its economies and its people than anyone I can think of in world history, including even Cecil John Rhodes,€ said Patrick Bond, director of the Centre for Civil Society in Durban, South Africa, referring to Volcker, who Obama recently named to become chairman of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Volcker was chair of the Federal Reserve under presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

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