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.
Police with batons and plastic shields jostled with Wade's supporters as they pushed them back from the airport, making several arrests.
This latest move likely adds to tensions in the tiny Gulf state, where there are clashes with police in many Shi'ite areas almost every day
Lavrov said Moscow would respond if its interests, or the interests of Russian citizens, were attacked.
The United States and European Union have held out the threat of further sanctions on Russia if it does not implement the Geneva agreement.
An American from Pennsylvania, a Syrian citizen and a London resident conspired to export items as a portable scanner used to detect chemical warfare agents, according to the US Justice Department
The five-member Snohomish County Council voted unanimously to table the issue of whether to impose a moratorium on construction within a half-mile of landslide hazard areas
Police officers had earlier stopped the saloon car at traffic lights and were taking the occupants for questioning when the bomb exploded, the ministry said.
Crimean Tatar leader Kirimoglu says he will return to the peninsula amid rumors he is banned
Qatar's dispute with three fellow Gulf states, which withdrew their envoys from Doha last month, is "over", the Qatari foreign minister said
Al-Shabaab has used Ayn as a launch pad for attacks on allied forces in Baldwin, capital of the south-central Hiran region.
"Efforts designed to end years of suffering have failed," declares UN
During Wednesday's session, judges heard a number of witnesses for the prosecution and adjourned the hearings to allow them to hear more witness testimony
Twelve Palestinians, including six children were injured when an Israeli aircraft fired on them in the city of Beit Lahia.
The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months.
Carriages flipped off the track in the accident near Likasi, a mining town between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi in the copper and cobalt-rich southeast
Candido Van-Dunem, who had held the post since 2010, will be replaced by Joao Lourenco, a former secretary-general of the MPLA ruling party