Leaders on target in setting up constitutional government

Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 01:00

Somalia’s political leaders are making encouraging progress towards the August 20th deadline to lay the groundwork for a new constitutional government, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ms Clinton met Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, president of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, and other Somali leaders in Nairobi, Kenya, during a seven-nation African tour.

Somalia has been mired in civil strife, poverty, Islamist militancy and maritime piracy since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, leaving the nation without an effective central government.

An African Union force trying to defeat al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked insurgent group that seized control of much of central and southern Somalia, has had some success and driven it out of the capital Mogadishu.

But the rebels remain the strongest of an array of militias with a history of wrecking political settlements and perpetuating war, instability and famine. “We are very encouraged by the progress the leaders have been making,” said Ms Clinton. – (Reuters)