U.S. criticizes Somali's ouster of dissident parliamentary speaker
The Bush administration expressed concern over the decision of Somalia's transitional government Wednesday to fire the parliamentary speaker...
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration expressed concern over the decision of Somalia's transitional government Wednesday to fire the parliamentary speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, who had made peace overtures to a faction of radical Muslims.
Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for Africa, said the firing of the parliamentary speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden, would have a "negative impact."
Frazer told a conference on Somalia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that the United States was concerned over the slow pace of efforts to form a unity government there.
The Somalia crisis
"Black Hawk Down" era: The country has been in chaos since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and resistance to U.N. peacekeeping led to the notorious downings of two U.S. military Black Hawk helicopters in 1993, and the U.S. withdrawal in 1994, followed a year later by peacekeepers.
Government formed: U.N.-backed talks led to formation in 2004 of a transitional government in exile that struggled to assert authority.
Islamists routed: Ethiopian troops last month routed an Islamic militant umbrella group called the Islamic Courts Council. The group had restored order to some areas of the country but was considered a threat to other countries because of its purported links to al-Qaida.
Aden had made several freelance peace initiatives with Somalia's Islamic movement — which the United States has linked to al-Qaida — before government forces backed by Ethiopian troops ousted them in December from the capital, Mogadishu, and much of southern Somalia.
The U.S. military targeted al-Qaida suspects in an airstrike this month in southern Somalia.
The administration had been clear in its discussions with the government, Frazer said, that it "must reach out" to other groups to break the cycle of violence in Somalia.
In Nairobi, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, said Adan was "the kind of person who could pull people together."
In a separate address at the conference, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., criticized what he said was the administration's slow response to the situation in Somalia and its focus on capturing al-Qaida suspects it says are being harbored by the Islamic movement.
Frazer said efforts continue to enlist an African peacekeeping force to replace the Ethiopian military, although Uganda remains the only country that has committed to the mission.
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