Bin Laden calls for Somalia's President to be 'dethroned'

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The Independent Online

Osama bin Laden has urged Somalis in a new audio tape to topple the new President, who is already struggling to deal with insurgents.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a moderate Islamist elected this year in the 15th attempt to form a government, has been trying to reach out to rebels who have waged a guerrilla war for the past two years and control large swaths of territory.

"The war which has been taking place on your soil these past years is a war between Islam and the international crusade," Bin Laden said, according to al-Qa'ida's English translation. "These sorts of presidents are the surrogates of our enemies and their authority is null and void in the first place, and as Sheikh Sharif is one of them, he must be dethroned and fought."

The violence in Somalia has left more than 16,000 civilians dead since the start of 2007, driven more than a million more from their homes and left about a third of the population depending on food aid. Western security services fear Somalia could become a base for al-Qa'ida-linked militants.

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