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Somalia's Sharif to stand for new term as president

Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed says he will run for a new term in office on the sidelines of meetings with representatives of the international community in the Kenyan capital Nairobi

AFP , Thursday 21 Jun 2012
Somalia
President of Somalia Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed sits in a chair reserved for heads of state following his address to the 64th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2009. (Photo: Reuters)
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Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said Thursday he would stand as a candidate for a new term in office, two months ahead of his job coming up for renewal.

"My services are available to Somalia if I am trusted with the job for another term," Sharif told AFP on the sidelines of meetings with representatives of the international community in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Somalia's fragile transitional institutions have to be renewed in the next two months, with a new parliament due to elect a new president by August 20, according to a calendar backed by the international community.

The calendar is supposed to take Somalia into a new era of political stability, the Horn of Africa country having been without a central administration since the ouster of former president Siad Barre in 1991.

Elected by the current parliament on January 31, 2009, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, 47, is criticised both inside Somalia and -- behind closed doors -- by the international community for having dragged his feet in the fight against graft and not having done enough to restore law, order and basic services.

"During my presidency I dedicated my efforts mainly to fighting terrorism that had become a dangerous phenomenon in the region," Sharif said.

"The time is coming to build the nation. Lawlessness will have no space in the future."

Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab rebels have been forced to abandon their positions in the capital in recent months by an African Union force fighting together with the fledgling Somali army and troops sent by Kenya and Ethiopia.

The military operations have also wrested back control of many of the Shebab's bastions in southern and central Somalia.

"Their strength has been greatly diminished. They are now on the run looking for hideouts," Sharif said.

Other expected candidates for president include the current prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and the speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan.

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