UK, Somalia host aid conference in London
LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron is welcoming Somalia's president and a host of international leaders to London to secure support for Somalia's beleaguered government in Mogadishu.
Somalia, a co-host of the conference Tuesday, is expected to detail its plans to develop the country's security forces, justice sector and financial management systems in hopes of getting more international aid.
Delegates include a number of African heads of state and representatives from the IMF and the World Bank.
Human Rights Watch has urged those attending to make accountability and women's rights a priority.
The conference came in for harsh criticism from Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate active in Somalia.
Al-Shabab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr released an audiotape in which he called the meeting a plot to "plunder" Somalia's mineral wealth "under the guise of international trade relations and fighting corruption." He said the international community wanted to discard Islamic law in Somalia and replace it with Western laws and constitutions.
In the same message Zubeyr urged his followers to increase suicide attacks to "permanently cripple" the Mogadishu-based government. The next day a suicide car bomb attack in Somali capital killed at least seven people.
Zubeyr blamed regional tensions over land and ethnicity on the Britain's colonial-era partitioning of Somalia between Kenya and Ethiopia.
Al-Shabab once controlled almost all of Mogadishu. African Union and Somali forces pushed the rebels out of the city in 2011, but the fighters have continued to carry out bomb attacks.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected by parliament in October at the end of the eight-year U.N.-backed transitional government.
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