Monday, August 13, 2012
NAIROBI (AFP) — Somalia's government must end a wave of assassinations that has struck the volatile capital Mogadishu as leaders jostle for power ahead of elections next week, the AU and UN warned Monday.
After eight years of infighting, the corruption-riddled government, which is propped up by almost 17,000 African Union troops defending it from Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, is due to be replaced on August 20 via United Nations-backed elections.
Unknown gunmen have killed at least seven people including businessmen and journalists in the past week alone, said AU special representative to Somalia Boubacar Diarra.
So far this year, at least one Somali journalist has been targeted and killed each month.
"There had been a steady rise in assassinations targeting journalists, government officials and businessmen," Diarra said in a statement.
"The Somali authorities must institute investigations into these killings with a view to bringing the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice."
Yusuf Ali Osma, a veteran journalist and senior official at the information ministry, journalist Mohamed Ali Keyr, and businessman Mohamed Rage were all murdered over the weekend, Diarra said.
Reporters Without Borders condemned the killings of Osma and 23-year-old Keyr, a reporter for the Horyaal news website, which brought the toll of journalists killed this year to eight.
"At this rate, 2012 could become the deadliest year of the past decade for media personnel in Somalia," the press rights watchdog said.
UN Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga demanded an end to the "culture of impunity", sending his condolences to Somali reporters who "for too long have seen their colleagues targeted, injured and assassinated without a single perpetrator being brought to justice."
No one has claimed responsibility for the killings in Mogadishu, which has been rocked by a string of explosions since Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents abandoned their fixed positions last year and switched to guerrilla attacks.
The hardline Shebab have vowed to topple the weak Western-backed government, and have launched several grenade and suicide bomber attacks.
However, recent killings are also likely linked to power struggles as the end of the transition period approaches.
The UN, AU and East Africa's main diplomatic body IGAD warned in a joint statement Friday that they were "increasingly concerned" that leaders were using "bribery, intimidation (and) violence" to rig the selection of lawmakers to parliament.
Bowed down by repeated droughts and riven by over two decades of conflict, Somalia is torn between rival clans, Islamist insurgents and the government.
It has been without a stable central government since the overthrow of former president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.