Talks between Somalia's interim government and the opposition in Djibouti are a waste of time and no tangible outcome can be expected, Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys said on Thursday. Speaking from Asmara, where he lives in exile, the former army colonel urged his allies attending the peace talks to walk out.
Kenya's fragile power-sharing deal to end a bloody post-election crisis suffered a setback on Monday as a row broke out over the role of prime minister in the proposed coalition government. President Mwai Kibaki and his rival, Raila Odinga, signed the pact last month to end political turmoil that left hundreds of people dead.
Kenyan police battled hundreds of opposition protesters on Wednesday, killing two, as the opposition defied a ban on rallies against President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election, witnesses said. In the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu and the coastal city of Mombasa youths began gathering in the morning, some burning tyres.
Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf spent a second day in hospital on Wednesday with a condition some sources called very serious but an envoy said was a routine check-up for an old liver transplant. In a tumultuous week for Somali politics, an exiled Islamist leader rejected a call by Somalia's new prime minister for talks to try to end 16 years of conflict.
The United Nations's top aid official, John Holmes, arrived in Somalia on Monday, calling for more to be done to help the Horn of Africa country where almost 6 000 civilians have been killed in fighting this year. UN officials say Somalia's humanitarian crisis is Africa's worst, with one million people displaced.
Uganda announced plans on Thursday to send 250 more soldiers to bolster a peacekeeping mission in Mogadishu plagued by the failure of other African nations to commit troops to Somalia. Uganda sent 1Â 600 men to the Somali capital in March as the vanguard of a planned 8Â 000-strong African Union force.
The leaders of Somalia's national reconciliation conference on Wednesday opened up the talks to Islamists, members of a rival peace meeting in Asmara and even insurgents targeting the conference venue in Mogadishu. By allowing the dissident groups in, conference organisers appeared to be trying to give the meeting wider inclusiveness urged by international donors.
A major Somali peace meeting resumed in Mogadishu on Thursday, hours after explosions echoed in the capital's biggest market in the heaviest fighting in 15 days of non-stop violence. ''The conference has started. Prime Minister [Ali Mohamed] Gedi has arrived. The explosions will not deter us,'' a security source said.
Peace talks due to start in Somalia this week were overshadowed by a grenade attack in a Mogadishu market that killed at least three people on Wednesday. The attack caused chaos at the Bakara market a day before the opening of the peace meeting, already adjourned from the weekend in a climate of violence.
Attackers targeting Somali police and government soldiers killed at least four people in Mogadishu on Monday, witnesses said, a day after mortar attacks punctuated the opening of a much-delayed peace meeting. In one incident, grenades were lobbed at police patrolling the central Bakara market.
Several explosions ripped through Mogadishu's sprawling Bakara Market on Tuesday, killing two people in a fifth straight day of violence in the area. Somalia's interim government says Bakara, one of the world's biggest open-air arms markets, is a stronghold of Islamist insurgents it blames for almost daily guerrilla attacks.