U.N. increases troops by 50 percent
UNITED NATIONS | Moving to better protect Somalia’s weak, U.N.-backed government from armed opposition groups, the Security Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to increase the peacekeeping force there by 50 percent, from 8,000 to 12,000 troops.
Uganda said it would contribute the additional 4,000 troops.
The resolution approved by council members said the extended deployment and the troop increase are necessary to support Somalia’s so-called Transitional Federal Government and civilians from attacks by al-Shabab and other opposition groups.
Al-Shabab and the other largest armed group in the country, Hizbul Islam, announced in recent days they would drop their feud and merge forces to concentrate on fighting the Mogadishu-based government and the African Union troops who protect it.
Considered Somalia’s most dangerous armed group, al-Shabab practices a harsh, conservative brand of Islam that bans television and movies. Its punishments include the chopping off of hands of thieves and death by stoning of adulterers.
Lawmakers being probed for drug trafficking
“There are serious investigations under way … none of the persons mentioned is guilty until they have been properly investigated and there is evidence,” said Mr. Saitoti, who is minister for internal security and provincial administration.
Four senior Kenyan government officials and a businessman have been permanently banned from traveling to the United States over allegations of trafficking narcotics, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya said last month.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, who did not name them, said the United States would help East Africa’s biggest economy in its fight against drugs.
Party to form opposition group
KHARTOUM | South Sudan’s main party said it would form a separate opposition group in the north if the country split in two after a referendum next month, and would seek support from marginalized people, even Darfur rebels.
People from Sudan’s oil-producing south are widely expected to vote to split away to form Africa’s newest nation in a referendum scheduled to take place on Jan. 9.
The SPLM also has supporters in the north, particularly in the border regions of Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan.
Senior SPLM member Yasir Arman told reporters on Wednesday the party’s northern sector would become an independent organization in the north as soon as the south became a separate country.
“It is going to be a political force to be reckoned with. … The north is a very diverse place. It is a place that needs democratic transformation. It is a place that needs different policies from Khartoum to the different regions of Sudan,” Mr. Arman said.
By James A. Lyons
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