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Somali president urges aid for his country at conference

May 7, 2013 at 7:12 PM

LONDON, May 7 (UPI) -- Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamud said Tuesday his country's stability is critical to the region as he asked donors for help at a London conference.

The conference was organized as a joint effort by Britain and Somalia, and attended by representatives of 50 countries and non-governmental agencies, CNN reported.

Mohamud said his goal is for Somalia to emerge "at peace with itself and its neighbors." One critical item is economic development, he said.

"People may ask why Somalia matters at this time but there is a huge amount at stake right now: the future of our country, the security of the region and the wider world, and the removal of the piracy stranglehold on the Gulf of Aden," he said.

Brigadier Gen. Michael Ondoga of AMISOM, the African Union mission in Somalia, said al-Shabaab, the militant group linked to al-Qaida, has disappeared from the capital, Mogadishu, as an open force. But, he told CNN, al-Shabaab fighters may have melted into the population, biding their time.

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