World Bulletin/News Desk
Somalia's president dismissed a U.N. report that accused senior leaders of corruption and defended his record as he campaigned for re-election in a landmark vote.
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who took over as head of a Western-backed transitional government in 2009, also promised he would step down if he lost - in an apparent answer to some critics who are concerned he could be planning to cling on to power.
Mired in conflict for more than two decades, the Horn of Africa state is on the cusp of a presidential election that will end a succession of United Nations-backed transitional governments, in place since 2004.
Western and regional states have pumped in millions of dollars in aid, and sent African troops to help crush al Qaeda-affiliated militants.
But the United Nations' Somalia monitoring group in July said it had found that, out of every $10 received by the transitional federal government (TFG) between 2009-2010, $7 never made into the state's coffers.
"We regret this report. It is a fabricated report and a lie. Those people who compiled it are intent for Somalia to stay as it is," Ahmed told Reuters on Thursday in the plush garden of Villa Somalia, his official residence in Mogadishu.
"If money had been seized, Somalia would never have reached the stage it has today," Ahmed said, citing progress in security conditions.
Ahmed, the current prime minister and parliament speaker are all contesting the election due to take place on or around August 20, the end of the TFG's mandate.
Under a complex procedure, tribal alders are in the process of nominating members of a new parliament. Those parliamentarians, once vetted by a committee, will then vote for the president who will start a four-year term.
The U.N. report said that in 2011 almost a quarter of the government's total expenditure - more than $12 million - was absorbed by the offices of the three top leaders.
"It is clear from the Monitoring Group's investigations that the political will to enact ... reform is lacking in the highest echelons of government," the report said.
Ahmed denied that funds had been misappropriated, saying they had been spent to lift Somalia out of its interminable state of crisis.
Privately though, Somalia-focused diplomats in Nairobi say Ahmed, a former leader of an Islamist rebel group, has failed to deliver on security gains and basic public services.
International observers say it is too difficult to predict who will win the election in a country where clan politics, rather than political qualifications, often determine an individual's political future.
Ahmed, whose mandate was supposed to end in 2011 before being extended by another year, said he had no intention of holding onto power.
"We are ready to accept the outcome, whatever it is," he told Reuters.
The meeting is the first of the two absolute monarchs since a major rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia earlier this year and follows attempts by Doha to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Jordan has drafted a text similar to a 2009 resolution, calling for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, council diplomats said
The White House said the United States welcomed news that victims' remains and the airplane's black boxes were being transferred to the Netherlands.
Bulgaria will raise its defence spending to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2015 and then gradually raise it further to 2 percent of GDP.
New constitution sweeping endorsement of military who siezed power in May 22 coup.
At least 47 people have died in the week-long Tripoli airport clashes, which involved artillery, Grad rockets and anti-aircraft guns, in some of the heaviest street fighting since the 2011 civil war.
Saddam-era fighters reject "changing the country's political and demographic structure" as Christians flee from ISIL threats.
Despite Western sanctions, he said Moscow would stand by separatists in eastern Ukraine whom, he described as part of a popular rising against an illegal coup.
Footage taken at the Egyptian presidential palace showed an official briefly raising a handheld metal-detecting wand to the lower part of Kerry's jacket before waving him through for the meeting
More than 1.2 million people in the enclave have no water or only limited access to water as power networks have been damaged or lack fuel for generators
Minister for Science and Technology says country developing 'human resources' for nuclear sector, state-run New Light of Myanmar reports.
Typhoon expected to hit China on Wednesday after making landfall in Taiwain late Tuesday.
The commission had been expected to declare Prabowo's rival, Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, as the election winner and next president.
Ali Abunimah, the founder of Electronic Intifada, quoted Israeli officer Anshel Pfeffer who said Hamas was no longer ”melting away like in the past,” but rather fighting with new equipment and tactics.
U.S. immigration courts have a backlog of 375,373 cases, almost 50,000 more than they faced two years ago, according to Justice Department figures.
The Palestinian resistance factions and Israel had two previous humanitarian ceasefires over the past week to provide assistance for the affected residents in the embattled Gaza Strip.