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Issue 394

Front Page

News Headlines

Weapons Supplied To Somalia Government By The US Are Sold In Mogadishu Markets

The Shortest Man In Somaliland Leaves For Norway

Somaliland Parliament Says Suspension Of Voter Registration Illegal

Tostan Holds Conference On Women’s Genital Mutilation

UN Agencies Launch Next Round Of Child Health Initiative In Somaliland

An Interview With Ambassador Marika Fahlen, Sweden’s Special Envoy For The Horn Of Africa

Somalia Tells All Visitors To Seek Government Approval

Somaliland Government Controlled Media Used To Incite Extremism

Local and Regional Affairs

A CALL FOR DIALOGUE: To Hold A Free, Fair And Peaceful Presidential Election

East Africa: Ethiopia Takes Part in First East African Independent Producers Forum

Somalia Mosque Victims Belonged To Southern Punjab

Kenyan Court Drops Charges, Clears Way For Canadian Woman To Return Home

Al Shabaab Reportedly Beheads 4 Christians, Rips Gold Teeth From Locals' Mouths

2 Somali Women, Children Die In Fire

3rd Man Pleads Guilty In Missing Somalis Case

Man Gets 23 Years In Killing Of Somali Restaurant Cook

Athens Police Attack Somali Protesters

Libyans Kill 20 Somali Prisoners

Somalia: The Trouble with Puntland

Somali Insurgents Reject Government’s Olive Branch

Amnesty International Calls For Accountability And Safeguards On Arms Transfers To Somalia’s TFG

Eastern Africa Standby Force To Be Ready Next Year

Somali Islamists Pull Teeth From "Sinners": Residents

Communiqué: Conference With Former Senior Somali Military And Police Officers

Clinton And South African Discuss Somalia

Tribute To Ali Marshal


Western Countries Encourage Piracy By Paying Ransom

Features & Commentary

Somalia: The Center Cannot Hold

Incredible Journey of Somali Human Right Activist Waris Dirie – The Movie

Escape From Somaliland

Without Free Movement, East Africa Will Keep Marking Time

Clinton's Africa Trip Highlights Importance US Attaches To The Continent

What Was Siyad Barre's Relation To A Fundamentalist Christian Group?

Legal Brief On The Suspension Of The Voter Registration List

Mandela – Poem

AT THE MERCY OF SOMALI PIRATES: Hansa Stavanger Crew Describe Hostage Ordeal

Where Camels Once Trod, A Train Crosses Australia

Update: Independent Diplomat Responds

US Misguided In Moving To Arm Somalia, Say Analysts

President Isaias's Encounter With The Financial Times

Somalia: The Trouble With Puntland – Report

International News


Woman Who Tried To Kill Ford Released From Prison

A Short Guide To Tools For Citizen Journalists

Australian Camels Facing Slaughter

UN Human Rights Expert Sounds Alarm On Draft Media Laws In Venezuela

Poll Shows Afghan Vote Headed For Second Round

Bristol's World Cup Bid Brings Communities Together . . . On The Football Field


A Crucial Week For Somaliland: A Time For Action

Building Bridges For Somaliland University Student Outside And Inside The Country

Why I Fear For Somalia

Africa’s Best-Kept Secret “Somaliland” Is In Need For A Change!

Lost Faith In The System

Somalilanders Around The Globe: Vote For Change

Where There Is No Donor

Al-Shabaab: “The” Number One Enemy Of Islam And Somali People

President Riyale And The Election Commission Are The Reason Of The Election’s Bone Of Contention

Poll Shows Afghan Vote Headed For Second Round

By Peter Graff

KABUL, August 15, 2009 – Afghan President Hamid Karzai leads the country's presidential race, but not by enough to win an outright majority in the August 20. election and avoid a second round, a new poll released Friday shows.

The poll, by the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute, showed Karzai winning 44 percent of the vote, with his main challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, winning 26 percent.

With less than a week to go, the two main candidates are criss-crossing the country by helicopter and jet. Karzai flew to the Western city of Herat Friday, while Abdullah was in the central mountain province of Dai Kundi.

Western diplomats have said they are surprised by the closeness of the race, although Karzai remains the front-runner to remain in power, if not with a first round victory then by surviving a second-round run-off six weeks later.

Just staging the election itself would be a feat, and fears that violence or fraud could undermine the vote are as palpable among many Afghans as doubt about the outcome.

The Taliban, stronger than at any time since they were driven from power eight year ago, have vowed to strike polling stations and threatened reprisals against voters.

Violence has surged in the weeks before the vote, with fighters staging a handful of bold attacks on provincial government buildings in the south, and also launching raids in once-quiet areas in the north and west.

In the latest violence, officials said Friday that up to 20 insurgents were killed in two separate incidents south of Kabul, while a rocket fired overnight on the capital fell harmlessly near the airport.

The United Nations says violence and intimidation have already disrupted planning and campaigning in the south, and could prevent many Afghans from casting their ballot.

U.S. commanders nonetheless say they think violence will not be sufficient to prevent a successful vote.

The election is a test for U.S. President Barack Obama's strategy of rushing thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan to tip the balance in an eight-year-old war that was not being won.

Some 30,000 extra U.S. troops have already arrived this year, bringing the total Western force above 100,000 for the first time, including 62,000 Americans.

The overall U.S. and NATO commander, General Stanley McChrystal, is due to release an assessment shortly after the election, which could be followed by a request for more troops.

The new U.S. troops and British forces have launched huge offensives in the south to reclaim Taliban-held territory, taking unprecedented casualties. More Western troops have died in Afghanistan since March than in the entire period from 2001-2004.


Despite the worsening war and a widespread view that the government is corrupt and ineffective, Karzai remains personally quite popular. In the poll, 81 percent had a favorable view of him and only 17 percent had an unfavorable view.

The poll showed Abdullah is also well liked, with a 71 percent favorable rating and 23 percent negative.

A master coalition-builder, Karzai has accumulated the endorsements of many powerful regional chieftains, to the alarm of Western diplomats worried about former warlords carving up power after the election.

But he appears not quite to have been able to construct a broad enough coalition to repeat his overwhelming single-round victory in the country's first democratic presidential election five years ago, when he won 55 percent of the vote and his nearest challenger got less than 16 percent.

Abdullah, an urbane eye doctor with roots in a mainly ethnic-Tajik northern anti-Taliban guerrilla movement, has been seeking to broaden his support in the south, where his father was born. This week he staged a rally in Karzai's native southern city of Kandahar, attracting hundreds of followers.

An Abdullah rally the following day in his own heartland of support, the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, attracted tens of thousands of supporters, probably the biggest crowd of the campaign. Karzai also has attracted large rallies.

The poll showed Ramazan Bashardost, a former planning minister and member of the Hazara ethnic minority whose office is in a tent opposite parliament, would place second with 10 percent of the vote. Ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani wins 6 percent.

Source: Reuters 





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