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.
Government officials in the tiny central African state reacted angrily to the warning by the U.N. mission
The European Rohingya Council accused Myanmar of "slow-burning genocide".
The brigades have claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks on the Iranian embassy in Beirut in February of this year and last November.
A multinational group of five small ships - four minesweepers and a support vessel - will be sent to the Baltic Sea "for the foreseeable future",
According to the official, the peacekeeping force will be composed of troops from all five IGAD member states: Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia.
The officials said the original list had been based on estimates, not exact amounts of toxic agents found in storage and production facilities across Syria.
Having already called for the state to be accepted into NATO alongside Georgia to protect them from Russian expansion plans, McCain reiterated these calls in his visit to students at the Academy for Economic Studies.
A 48-hour RMT strike in February brought the network to a virtual standstill and caused travel misery for millions of commuters
The Friends of Yemen group pledged around $7.9 billion in aid in 2012, but most of the funds have been delayed because of technical issues and lagging approvals by donor heads of state
Belarus and Kazakhstan are already members alongside Russia, with Armenia expected to join the bloc soon.
Hundreds of people remain trapped in the old part of the city, surrounded by government forces and pro-Assad militia.
Serbs in Leposavic, Zubin Potok, Zvecan and North Mitrovica are boycotting the European Union's Rule of Law Mission (EULEX).
Dragan Covic attacks the EU for using Sejdic-Finci case to deny it membership to the bloc.
The court agreed with prosecutors who had argued that the man was a leading member of the pirate gang, that he had taken important decisions on board, had a lot of responsibility and at times led the group.
Putin said Ukraine's presidential election campaign was being conducted in an unacceptable manner and Russia would not view its results as legitimate
"These accusations are complete nonsense. During his term in office as Danish prime minister, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen never brought a dictaphone to record meetings with Mr. Putin or anybody else," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said