- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SOMALIA

MOGADISHU — The U.N. has launched its aid appeal for Somalia in the capital, Mogadishu, for the first time in two decades.

The U.N. on Tuesday said that $1.3 billion is needed for programs from 2013 to 2015 that will assist 3.8 million people.

The acting humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Stefano Porretti, said that while the humanitarian situation in Somalia remains critical, the improvement in food stocks and new-found security in the capital present an opportunity to break the cycle of recurring crises brought on by drought and conflict.

He said it is “imperative” that the world continue to support humanitarian work in Somalia.

The U.N. has faced criticism for operating its Somalia aid operations from neighboring Kenya.

But recently, the U.N. and other aid groups have begun to move back into Mogadishu.

NAMIBIA

President picks Geingob for prime minister

WINDHOEK — Namibia’s president has said that Hage Geingob will return to serve as the nation’s prime minister as part of a major Cabinet reshuffle in the southern Africa nation.

The Namibia Press Agency said President Hifikepunye Pohamba made the announcement Tuesday during a hastily called news conference in the capital Windhoek.

Mr. Geingob is part of the ruling party South West African People’s Organization, a former guerrilla movement known as SWAPO.

Mr. Geingob’s elevation comes after he was confirmed Sunday as SWAPO’s vice president. That puts him in a strong position to become SWAPO’s presidential candidate in the nation’s coming 2014 election.

Mr. Geingob previously served as Namibia’s first prime minister from 1990 to 2002.

Namibia gained its independence and a majority-rule government in 1990.

KENYA

2 Kenyans charged at ICC form political alliance

NAIROBI — Two prominent Kenyans facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court have formed a political alliance to run for the presidential and vice presidential seats in the country’s March election.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Minister William Ruto announced the alliance Sunday at a political rally in the western city of Nakuru.

Mr. Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding father, would run for president, and Mr. Ruto for vice president.

Mr. Kenyatta faces charges of committing murder, forcible deportation, persecution and rape against supporters of the prime minister after the 2007 election.

More than 1,000 people died in postelection violence that broke out from disputes over who had won the presidential post.

Mr. Ruto has been charged with the murder, forcible deportation and persecution of supporters of the president’s party.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

U.N.: Rwanda, Uganda helped Congo rebels

UNITED NATIONS | Rwanda and Uganda helped rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo stage a major offensive in the east of the country last month, U.N. experts said in a report obtained by Agence France-Presse.

Hundreds of Rwandan troops bolstered M23 rebels as they took the key city of Goma, while Uganda provided “logistics” support, said a report by the U.N. sanctions experts sent to the U.N. Security Council.

The new investigation piles more pressure on the Rwandan government over its role in the Congo conflict as it prepares to take up a seat on the Security Council on Jan. 1, diplomats said.

The 15-member council and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon repeatedly have condemned external support for the rebels without naming any country.

The experts said their inquiry “strongly upholds” previous accusations that the neighboring countries provided major backing to the rebels, who routed government forces before withdrawing from Goma at the weekend under a cease-fire accord.

Rwanda and Uganda have strongly denied involvement in resource-rich North Kivu province.

Rwanda’s U.N. mission spokesman, Olivier Nduhungirehe, called the new report “preposterous.”

MALI

Leader of al Qaeda unit in Mali quits AQIM

BAMAKO — An Algerian-born jihadist who heads one of the most powerful and feared cells of al Qaeda’s North African branch has decided to leave the al Qaeda franchise in order to create a movement spanning the entire Sahara Desert, said one of his close associates and a local official who had been briefed on the matter this week.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, formerly the head of a cell of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), is one of the most prolific kidnappers operating in Mali’s lawless north.

He is linked to the abduction of a group of tourists in 2003 in southern Algeria, as well as the top U.N. diplomat in Niger, Robert Fowler, who was grabbed on the side of a road in 2008.

The deputy mayor of a town in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety, confirmed that AQIM “katiba,” or cell, leader Belmokhtar had left the al Qaeda franchise.

The information was confirmed by Oumar Ould Hamaha, an associate of Belmokhtar’s, who was reached by telephone at an undisclosed location in northern Mali.

“It’s true,” said Mr. Hamaha. “It’s so that we can better operate in the field that we have left this group which is tied to the ‘Maghreb’ appellation. We want to enlarge our zone of operation throughout the entire Sahara, going from Niger through to Chad and Burkina Faso.”

Mr. Hamaha said, however, that while he and Belmokhtar have left the North African branch, they remain under the orders of al Qaeda central.

AQIM evolved from an Algerian jihadist group, which was pushed by security forces south across the border into Mali in 2003.

The group appeared to be floundering, losing members and on the run, until it sealed a deal with al Qaeda’s central command, becoming the terror franchise’s branch in the Maghreb region of Africa, a term that refers to North African countries including Algeria.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports