The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday warned Somalia's neighbors against interfering in its affairs and threatened sanctions against violators of a U.N. arms embargo on the African country.
The council also urged the Islamists ruling the city of Mogadishu to join Somalia's transitional government at talks in Sudan, where they could air their differences and try to resolve them, said Ghanaian U.N. Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng, the council president for August.
The talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, brokered by the Arab League, were put on hold on Tuesday when the Islamists asked for a two-week delay.
The Islamists, who control Mogadishu and a swathe of southern Somalia through Sharia courts backed by disciplined militias, have vowed to spread Islamic law across the Horn of Africa country of 10 million people.
The Islamists accuse the U.N.-backed government led by President Abdullahi Yusuf of being a puppet of Ethiopia and say this is demonstrated by the presence of Ethiopian troops in Baidoa, where the government is based.
Ethiopia this week called charges that it has troops in Somalia "an outrageous fabrication."
Francois Lonseny Fall, the U.N. special envoy for Somalia, said on Wednesday the United Nations did not know for sure whether Ethiopian troops were in Somalia.
There were too few U.N. staff in the country to check for the presence of Ethiopian soldiers, Fall told reporters in New York after briefing the 15-nation Security Council.
Effah-Apenteng said council members worried that outside interference "could raise the threat of regional conflict."
Somalia has had no real central authority since 1991, leaving rival clans to carve up the countryside with arms obtained in lively regional markets.
The interim government, formed in 2004, is based in Baidoa, 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Mogadishu, because it was too weak to set up in the former capital.
U.N. experts have sent reports to the Security Council for years describing a brisk illegal trade in arms in Somalia despite a ban on weapons deals first imposed in 1992.
But the council has never taken action beyond appealing to governments to crack down.
Their most recent report, issued in May, listed neighbors Eritrea and Ethiopia as among apparent violators. Eritrea denied being a source of arms while Ethiopia did not respond to the allegations, the experts reported.
7 lashed in Somalia for pot involvement
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Mogadishu's Islamic leaders gave seven men 40 lashes each for using or selling marijuana, meting out the punishment in public Wednesday in a dramatic example of the region's new fundamentalist rule.
It was the first public lashing since a militia-backed Islamic group took control of the capital, Mogadishu, in June. Officials said that the men were arrested two weeks ago, but did not say whether they were tried.
The seven were lashed at the Konis Stadium in Mogadishu in front of scores of people. The marijuana was burned before the crowd.
"This punishment is in accordance with the Islamic law. Thank God, we can implement Islamic law in parts of the country freely and we hope we shall be able to do so throughout the country," Sheik Farah Ali Hussein, an official of the Islamic group, told the crowd.
The imposition of strict religious rule has sparked fears of an emerging, Taliban-style regime. The United States accuses Somalia's Islamic leaders of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for deadly bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Somalia has not had a police force or judiciary for 16 years since the warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, carving much of the country into armed camps ruled by violence and clan law.
The Islamic leaders stepped into the vacuum in Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia, projecting themselves as a source of stability.
Late Tuesday, Islamic militiamen raided a makeshift video hall in Mogadishu, beating up viewers watching an Indian film. Like the Taliban, members of the group appear to see any secular entertainment as un-Islamic.
Somalia has a weak transitional government set up two years ago with U.N.-backing but it has been unable to assert its authority beyond Baidoa, 150 miles northwest of Mogadishu, and could only watch helplessly as Islamic militants seized the capital in June.
Uganda/Somalia: U-20s to Face Somalia
UGANDA'S U-20 team has been drawn to open against Somalia on September 12 at the Cecafa/Karume Youth Cup in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The Hippos are drawn in Group A along side Somalia, Zanzibar, Rwanda and hosts Burundi.
Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the United Nations will help support the tournament that will run from September 9-23. Zanzibar will open their campaign against the hosts Burundi on September 9.
Meanwhile, after handling the MTN club champions league match between Orlando Pirates of South Africa and Hearts of Oak of Ghana, Fifa referee Muhamed Ssegonga has been appointed to handle yet another tough encounter.
The fast rising referee will be in the centre when the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and Amavubi stars of Rwanda face off in their first Nations Cup qualifier on September 3 in Kigali.
Ssegonga will be helped by Samuel Kayondo and Nelson Mubanda as assistants. Innocent Kabanda from Rwanda and Muhammed Yasin Yunis from Djibouti will be fourth official and match commissar respectively.
Caf also named Sudan referee Abdel Rahman Khalid from Sudan to handle the Uganda Cranes - Lesotho qualifier at Namboole on September 2.